Sunday, December 23, 2012

Dealing With Grief at the Holidays

We, as a nation, are recovering this year from a series of painful and tragic events. Some may also be experiencing their own personal losses. The holidays  may also magnify those that are lacking or suffering therefore triggering guilt in people. These feelings of grief might inhibit the joyful expectations and excitement for the holidays making it more difficult to cope.

The Grief Process is a combination of several emotions such as Denial, Anger, Regret, Guilt, and Sadness. How we experience grief is due to many factors such as amount of time, affiliation/connection to the loss, religious beliefs, and cultural issues. Here are some suggestions of ways to cope that might be helpful :

 - Treat yourself with 'TLC' (tender loving care). Don't overextend yourself or become overwhelmed. Ask others to help with preparations and tasks. 

- Graciously limit or turn down invitations from people or situations that may cause heartbreak.

- Respectfully communicate your needs to others.

- Allow yourself to leave any situation that triggers painful feelings.
- Some people start a new tradition to honor the memory of a loved one and allow for the expression of loving feelings.

- Employ self-care through relaxation and stress reduction techniques as in exercising, hot baths, listening to soothing music, reading a favorite book, tending to a garden, getting a massage, sipping a cup of hot tea, getting plenty of rest and eating healthy meals.

- Refrain from the overuse of food, alcohol, sleep medications, sugar and sweets as they may make you feel depressed and fragile.

- Seek out the comfort of your support system or attend therapy or grief support groups. 

- Give yourself the gift of self-acceptance – your body, mind, mistakes, needs/wants, decisions and feelings.

It is true that, with time and the employment of healthy coping skills, healing will occur. As they say, it is no accident that the first 4 letters in Health are Heal.            

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