How To Cope With The Loss Of A Loved One During The Holidays
The holidays can bring on a heightened sense of grief and loss, especially if Covid-19 or another sudden cause of death contributed to the loss of a loved one. That moment may have rightfully left you feeling powerless and robbed. Processing such a loss during this time of year can be extremely difficult to embrace and navigate.
Grief that isn’t addressed properly can take many forms which include:
- Crying for no reason
- Fear of getting sick yourself (if you lost a loved one to covid)
- Anger towards others
- Easily annoyed or irritable
- Feeling guilty
- Having insomnia or not being able to sleep at all
- Weight gain or weight loss
- Inability to concentrate or forgetfulness
If you are experiencing any of this after losing someone close to you, know that it is normal. Take time to step back and recognize it so that it doesn’t consume you. Work on getting any habits that are harmful to your body under control.
If you are struggling with managing the grief or want to learn about measures to prevent it, here are some self-care tips to get you started with getting through this holiday season while you process it all.
Give yourself some grace to feel the moment.
Grieve and feel upset, you have the right to. These unfortunate events create anxiety and uncertainty so do what you can to support yourself. This can include going for a walk, some relaxing activities or social support from the right group of friends and family. You do not have to force yourself to be happy just because it’s the holidays. Ugly cry when you need to. The loss of a loved one is a tough experience to endure.
Find new ways to celebrate and be creative.
If there was something special they enjoyed to do this time of the year, keep it going. Whether riding through the neighborhood to see the Christmas lights or decorating real trees instead of fake ones, you can celebrate their memory as a way to keep them alive in your heart.
Learn to say “NO.”
Saying yes to things you don’t want to do only creates a recipe for resentment and stress. Your real friends and family will understand when you refuse to do things that you normally wouldn’t. Only participate in what makes you comfortable. You have to prepare yourself for your new reality. Things are not only different, they will be difficult to transition to. Give yourself the grace you need right now. Communicating with others and state what you do and don’t need at this time.
So many moments in life have been turned into obligatory ways of behaving but if it disturbs your peace, don’t do it. If the wound is too fresh, you can stay home this year. Kindly let the rest of the family know you won’t be attending the yearly gathering and need more time to yourself.
Get your endorphins going.
Get sleep, drink water and exercise. Endorphins are your friends anytime you are going through something. They help make you happy. It’s important to be gentle with your mind and your body right now. Being physically drained makes you mentally and emotionally drained. Take the time off that you need from your everyday routine but get some exercise when you are up to it and treat your body well.
Think about how they’d want you to move forward.
Feel all the feels but find moments to think positively from their standpoint as well. How would that relative want you to live your life? They definitely wouldn’t want you to carry the grief for an extended amount of time. When you are ready, start appreciating the things you love again. Live for them and make them proud by doing things that bring joy.
Avoid unhealthy coping strategies.
Times like these can cause you to easily overindulge in the wrong things. Avoid using alcohol, tobacco, and drugs as a way to get through this. While having a glass of wine is fine, monitor yourself for continuous, unhealthy habits as a means to deal with the loss of your loved one.
Find a therapist if you need to.
Get professional help if it’s all too overwhelming. Whether your grief is brand new or has been going on unaddressed for years, remote therapy can be very beneficial. It’s also more comforting to see someone virtually and in your home rather than dealing with the anxiety of having to drive to them.
It can take time to find a therapist you connect with so check out some of these resources to help with narrowing it all down and alternatives for costs not covered by insurance if needed.
Therapy for Black Girls has an article on dealing with grief during the holidays you can read about as well here. They offer additional support for finding black therapists if that is your preference. And just to make sure we have you are covered, check out this article by our Live Civil Astrologist, Jheanell Bloom; 5 Ways To Stay Centered And Grounded This Holiday to keep your spiritual toolkit full.
Taraji P. Henson has a foundation that aims to break the cycle of not addressing mental health in the black community and supports black people seeking black therapists. Find out more about her work here.
The Loveland Foundation is a resource dedicated to helping the black community eliminate not having insurance or funds to pay for therapy as a barrier. You can find out more about their mission here and apply for assistance should you need it.
250,000+ lives have been lost due to covid and getting through the holidays is different for many families this year. Whether you lost a loved one to coronavirus or other causes, this time of the year can present itself to be emotionally loaded.
Just know there is no right or wrong way to feel about the loss of a loved one. There is no timeline or correct method to grieve either. There are just healthier ways to process it all. Whether this is your first holiday without them or not, the key to it is to be kind to yourself. Seek help if you need it and take it one day at a time.