Getting Through the Festive Season when Dealing with Grief
by Meghann Scully, Mental Health & Wellness Blogger
@BookHubPublish @ThesisClinic @Meghann_Scully
As the mornings darken and the temperatures drop, the festive season has come upon us quicker than expected. And while nobody is ever really prepared, those who are suffering or in mourning will be dreading the road ahead. And before we know it the holidays loom and while many are counting down the days when they can leave the office for an extended period, turn the ‘Out of Office’ on and switch off, many more than you can ever expect are dreading Christmas. While it is a time of celebration, presents and partying it is also a dark and lonely time for others.
After my brother passed away, Christmas became the most miserable time of the year. The idea of spreading joy and happiness was a nightmare and one that we were living each day. It was impossible to even pretend. The house lay bare, no tree or star in sight. Only broken hearts and tear soaked tissues.
The only escape from the darkness was to visit friends but then there was a jealous streak that prevailed. These people who were enjoying time together were a reflection of everything I lost. Sometimes calling to other houses wasn’t at all a distraction but a reminder of the loss I was feeling. And as soon as I would sit down I would have to leave just as fast.
I remember I couldn’t wait for the holidays to be over so I could return to school and get away from the tinsel and flashing lights. The following year after my father died, I was done with everything that resembled Christmas. I wanted to slip into hibernation. I even asked my mother every year if we could go abroad somewhere warm just so the feeling of Christmas would melt away. The next few years were as miserable as the next, I couldn’t even pretend that I was excited. But then again the festivities couldn’t be avoided and usually ended up with me in floods of tears, hiding in a bathroom.
But, over the years I have had to learn how to cope and deal with the negativity I was feeling towards this time of year and one day I realised that I didn’t want to avoid it, I wanted to be part of it. As they say if you cannot beat them join them. My friends weren’t going to be miserable for me so I had to celebrate with them. I wanted to enjoy the time off and laugh with my friends. So after some years of avoiding Christmas; here are some of my tips leading up to the holidays that can ease the burden.
Remember: Do not be afraid to remember the loved one you have lost. Don’t try to push them to the back of your mind. Sit in a quiet warm place and reflect on the person no longer with you. They would want you to be enjoying this time of year.
Laugh: It seems hard to comprehend when you lose someone you love but don’t feel ashamed to laugh and to enjoy certain moments, be it a night out, a night in or just time spent with friends. Watch a funny movie and let the laughter enter your home.
Light It Up: While decorations seem to represent the great times, don’t leave them in the dark either. Light the house up, decorate even one room and try create a space for yourself to be part of Christmas!
Cry: I know it might seem obvious but I spent so many moments bottling up the pain and suffering that I struggled much more. Sometime a good cry is helpful as it can ease the pain and allow time to reflect. New Years can be particularly hard so let it out.
Honesty: Be honest with yourself and your state of mind. Don’t put yourself under pressure to do things and to go places. If you want to stay home then stay home. But don’t isolate yourself either. When I want time on my own, I light incense and I write but sometimes I just sit in silence.
Take It Easy: the festive season consists of events every single night which would drain anybody so use the time off work wisely. Or if you are working, make the most of the hours away from the office. Use your time wisely. Don’t put yourself under unnecessary pressure. January is a new month and you need to be refreshed.
Drink Less: While Christmas is linked very much with drinking alcohol you need to be extremely careful. When you are vulnerable drinking can trigger an emotion to a much greater scale and it can overwhelm you. So make wise decisions when it comes to drinking.
For many years I tried to avoid Christmas but the reality is it is impossible. Also, Marcus and Dad never would have wanted me to sit and wallow. They would have wanted me to enjoy it and to look after myself. I would be lying if I said that I don’t still get a little low over the festive season but when I feel like that I take a step back but I don’t let it completely control my life. Because at the end of the day, life is too short.