The holidays can be stressful on their own, however when you have to cope with the death of a loved one at this time it can bring on a completely different type of stress. The main thing you have to realize is that you are not alone. You may become depressed and feel like you want to isolate yourself from the world. It’s easier said than done to say don’t do it. It’s best to try to take small steps to stay socially active when you lose a loved one, especially during the holiday season. Now this doesn’t mean that you should attend every party or function that you are invited to, however pick and choose where you will be comfortable with close friends and family. Try not to isolate yourself, but remember it’s also perfectly normal to let everyone know that you need to step back, regroup, and some time for yourself.
This is a hard time because not only are you trying to keep up a happy face during turkey and Santa time when everyone around you is cheerful from your co-workers, friends, television and people you encounter in general walking down the street. You may have had to say good bye to someone profoundly important in your life. Sometimes, even with the comfort that they may be in a better place, not having them with you during a time for family joy is hard. However, the best thing to do is to not forget them, but take steps to honor them. If you feel that creating a space at the table to honor where they would have sat is therapeutic for you, discuss it with the rest of your family and do so. Make it as lovely and connected to the person who has passed so that you can get some holiday closure. Even adding a special ornament to the tree or Christmas display is a touch to stay connected.
When you are feeling holiday sadness communicate to family and friends how you are feeling. Let them know what you can and cannot take. Knowing your own limits and being able to vocalize them to those around you is important. Losing a loved one can be devastating any time of the year but when the holidays roll around without them, it can bring out some untouched on emotions that you may not be able to tackle alone. So consider also seeking professional help, even if it is medication for a short time frame or just some talk therapy to help you balance the holiday stress along with your loss. It is better to reach out and get help at this time, either inpatient or outpatient because the holidays are hard since it is a time that families are together. The loss of a family member is a heartache that only time can heal. Therefore, it’s beneficial to ask for help and take the time to take care of you.