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Grief & Loss Over the Holidays
To some, holidays are the most wonderful time of the year! You can cozy up under a blanket with a Hallmark movie on and a cup of hot cocoa in hand, surrounded by your family. Sounds great, right? The idea of it is great, until the empty seat next to you brings on the heartache to realize that a loved one won’t be joining you this year for the holidays. As great as the holiday season seems, it can also be some of the most difficult days for those coping with a new normal without a loved one by their side.
Creating a new normal when a loved one is no longer with us can be so difficult. Nothing will ever take away the pain. Time will help us establish a new routine but will never truly heal the broken hearts that are left. As someone who has experienced a great amount of trauma and loss, I want to share my truth about what the first, second, and even third holidays are like when an empty seat is left at the table.
The first year is hard. You are trying to establish normalness amongst chaos and heightened emotions. My reality has shown that the second and third years are more difficult though as people are not surrounding you with love and support as they did during the first year. I want you to know that everything you feel is valid and okay to feel! This is tough, especially when everyone else seems to be living their best life. Here are a few things that have carried me through the most difficult times, and I would invite you to try them as you see fit.
- Let yourself cry. Go take a hot shower, blare the music, and release those emotions!
- Try doing a gratefulness journal. Write down one thing each morning and each night that brings a smile to your face.
- Get active! Do an indoor workout, play the Wii (if those are still around), or simply walk your hallway a few times to get your blood pumping.
- Find a new hobby! Try out arts and crafts to help keep your mind occupied with something enjoyable.
- Reach out! During these difficult times and the chaos of the holidays, it may seem that everyone is so busy and doesn’t have time to check in with you. Don’t be afraid to reach out and ask a friend for a few moments to chit chat! We all have seasons of struggle and need to be willing to ask for help sometimes when others may forget that not everyone is at their best.
- Know that you are not alone and that you are loved. As someone who has been through the trenches, I know loneliness can take its toll. If no one else has told you this, let me be the first. You are going through a lot. I am proud of you. I am proud of you for not giving up and for pushing through. I am proud of you for overcoming every obstacle and continuing to go through this season. You are loved. You are seen. You will overcome this trial.
Times are tough. Days are hard. But you’re an overcomer. You will push through this holiday season and be stronger for it. We are all here to love and support you! From one grieving person to another, you got this!