To most people, the holidays and festive season is a time to look forward to. And why not? These are times for getting together, thanksgiving, gift-giving, and feasting. However, for a number of people, the holidays may remind them of reasons to grieve, such as the passing of a loved one.
A person may find it hard to face the festive season because of a loved one who departed near the holiday period. Or perhaps just seeing everyone gathered happily together emphasises the void that was formed upon the loss of a loved one. The pressure of having to put on a front and celebrate along with others can take a serious toll on those who are grieving.
However, grieving that surges up during the holidays is completely normal, and should be treated as such. Here are some ways you can process that grief during this time.
Trust that grief is part of the healing process
Many people think that grief is a negative emotion that should be suppressed. But while grieving is not a pleasant feeling, it still has a place in the healing process. Grieving helps us face the loss, process it, and come to terms with it.
As some people like to imagine it, grief doesn’t completely disappear with time. It just reduces in intensity over time, and occasionally comes back in waves. The holiday season can trigger one of those waves – and what you can do is to ride it out rather than clamp it down.
Once you can understand that grief is normal and healthy, you should allow yourself time and space to grief, rather than trying to put on a front and ‘enjoy’ the festivities while ignoring your true emotions.
It’s okay to say ‘no’
Everyone has their own threshold for emotional triggers, and it helps to understand what triggers your grief. While it might not be healthy to shut yourself off completely, it is advisable to set your own boundaries to avoid putting yourself in overly uncomfortable situations.
For example, you don’t have to go to every holiday party or gathering if you don’t feel emotionally ready to be surrounded by people who are having fun and who will pressure you to do so. It would also help to come up with some responses to deviate questions that you know will touch upon a raw nerve.
If you know that going to an event may make you feel vulnerable, it pays to plan ahead. Don’t make hard promises to attend the event, so that you can decline to attend if you really feel uncomfortable on the day itself. If possible, plan to go with a trusted friend or family member, so that they can give you reassurance and help you navigate out of any sticky situations.
Planning also includes giving yourself time to rest and grief in private. It might be a good idea to dedicate a day just to stay at home and journal your thoughts, or visit a place that contains memories with the person you are missing.
Sometimes holidays cause grief rather than happiness. But the best way to get over such grief is not to hide them but to allow yourself to experience the grief as part of the healing process. Being kind to yourself and having the support of trusted friends and family members also help.
At 1Stop Buddhist Funeral Services, we hope to also extend our helping hand to grieving families through hassle-free Buddhist funeral packages. If you need any funeral assistance, we welcome you to speak to our funeral directors.