Losing the people we love or those who were once close to us is one of the most unfortunate circumstances life throws our way. A big misconception about the process of grief is that it is limited to death. While, death is a permanent loss, therefore capable of being more traumatic to the spirit, there are those who grieve people who are actually still alive. This article is for all of us. I’ve been in the field of mental health long enough to know that the holidays are one of the most difficult times for those dealing with the loss of a loved one. Whether it’s death; divorce; a prison sentence; the ending of a friendship or romantic relationship; a family bond that you wanted but never recieved, the process of grief is still a process.
Here are 10 Ways to Deal with Grief and Loss this Holiday Season…
1. Develop and utilize a strong support system
When someone initially passes, the calls, the texts and reaching out will seem endless. Far too often, this slows down after the funeral. Loved ones are left to grieve on their own while the rest of the world has moved on. Find a support system that does not end. Join a support group, make plans with friends weekly, call and let others know when you don’t want to be alone. This will help soothe the pain of the loss.
2. Study a quote or spiritual readings daily that gives reassurance for the future.
The Bible has several scriptures to help loved ones cope with grief and loss. Similarly, there are inspirational books and quotes that give insight to new beginnings. Use them daily.
3. Write a letter to the deceased love one.
Though it may seem weird at first, writing to our deceased loved one can be very powerful. Sometimes, we don’t get the proper goodbye and other times we have guilt for the things we did not do, or say when our loved ones were alive. Writing a letter to the deceased, gives us that closure. It’s healthy to express to them the impact they had on your life and how you have managed since they’ve been gone. Place the letter in a place that is spiritual to you and has a connection to them.
4. Adopt a new hobby, or implement a new tradition or venture.
When someone passes, going forward can seem like you’re living a new life. Your patterns will change and you will find yourself thinking about the things the two of you used to do together. Challenge these times and find a new venture or hobby. Learn to crochet, ride a motorcycle, or write that book you’ve been procrastinating on.
5. Create a play list of inspirational music.
Music can be the reason we laugh or the reason we cry, either way, it has an impact. Let music be your guide to healing. Listen to music that gives you hope, makes you dance and takes you to a level of acceptance with this major change.
6. Create a workout plan and a meal plan.
Living healthy is very crucial to feeling healthy. Some foods can be heavy, increasing symptoms of depression (bread, junk food, pasta, and other foods high in carbs), while other foods provoke fast metabolism and better moods (salmon, berries, almonds, greens, and other foods high in antioxidants). Working out increases endorphins and can be a great way to distract from the symptoms, loss and grief comes with. Go for that walk, take that swim, ride that bike or hit that punching bag. If you don’t want to leave the house just yet, YouTube offers a multitude of workout plans. Check it out.
7. Volunteer for a charitable organization
Sometimes when people are depressed, they tend to believe they don’t have a purpose. If you provided a lot of support for the deceased loved one, you probably will “lose” it trying to figure out what to do with your free time. Volunteer work or contributing to a charitable organization can fulfill the need to have a purpose. Check out your local churches, YMCA or community centers for more answers.
8. Develop a collage or a slide show of all the good memories you shared with that loved one.
Sometimes, people believe the healthiest way to grieve is to avoid all things reminding them of the one they lost. This is not true. In fact, avoidance can be the most unhealthy way to grieve. The reality is, your loved one existed, and they left an imprint, so embrace it. Flood yourself with their pictures, videos, and symbolic gifts, so one day, you will be able to walk past their picture and smile because you remembered that there was a bond unique to the two of you.
9. Improve or get creative with your style or look.
There is truth to the fact that if you look good, you feel good. Spice up your wardrobe, dare yourself to wear that color you swore you’d never wear, change your hair color, or just chop it all off. Your deceased loved one would be shocked, yet proud.
10. Indulge yourself in arts and crafts.
Journaling, coloring, painting and completing 1000 piece puzzles can lighten the soul of someone struggling with, grief, loss, depression and/or anxiety. Imagine your feelings had a face, what would it look like? Draw it, color it, deal with it. Allow your brain to expand and go places it didn’t know it could go. After all, it is the ONE thing that controls how you feel.
This article was written to offer healthy tips on grieving the loss of a loved one during the holidays. If someone you know is grieving, do not leave them alone or unattended this holiday season.
Nya B is a mental health clinician, author, speaker and adjunct professor in behavioral arts and sciences. To learn more about her, follow her on IG @author_nya_b and check out her website, nya-b.com