The holidays, which are traditionally a joyous time
of year, can be a very bittersweet time for people
who have lost a loved one, no matter how long ago
the loss was, and those difficult feelings are likely
to surface at some point in time over the holidays.
How does one cope with sadness and painful memories
during this time of year?
Although every person's grief is individual and personal,
there are several things a grieving person can do
to get through the holiday season, according to Cynthia
Bozich-Keith, who counsels people on grief and loss.
Bozich-Keith, a clinical assistant professor in Purdue
University's School of Nursing, offered the following
Share your thoughts and feelings: "I encourage people
to talk to their families and close friends about
their feelings -- don't hold things inside. I encourage
them to surround themselves with people who they love
and who love them and who are accepting," she said.
Remember the departed: "It's important to talk about
the lost loved one; sharing memories may help with
the healing process," according to Bozich-Keith.
Celebrate life: Attend religious services, if faith
is part of your life. Make a donation in memory of
Set limits: "If you don't feel like going to that
Christmas party -- don't -- but try to be open and
pick and choose; again, go with people you love and
who love you."
Be realistic: "Know the difference between what you
can do versus what you should do. The 'shoulds' will
get you every time," Bozich-Keith said. "It's important
to let go of the need to be perfect or doing it all.
If you're accustomed to doing all of the shopping,
cooking, and decorating, maybe this is the year to
share those things with others."
It is also important to be kind to yourself, to pamper
yourself a little, to slow down the hectic holiday
pace and to be sure to eat well, exercise, get enough
sleep and avoid alcohol, which may intensify feelings
Bozich-Keith also lets the people she counsels know
that "it's okay to cry because tears are really healing,
so be honest with yourself and others and let yourself
be human; loss and grief are a normal part of life."
On the other hand, don't feel guilty if you find
yourself enjoying yourself around the holidays, she
said. "It is not disrespectful to the memory of your
loved one if you have a good time; your loved one
would be happy to know you are enjoying yourself."
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