How To Survive The Holidays With a Broken Heart
The leaves are falling the hint of cool crisp autumn is in the air. Halloween is
around the corner. Candy is on store shelves along with pumpkin spice everything, fake Christmas trees are proudly displayed and everyone is getting excited it is time for the Holidays.
Everyone but you.
Your heart has broken and seeing the happiness of everyone else makes you feel more depressed as you sit and wonder how am I going to make it through the candy, turkey, and lights.
If this sounds like you, then I would like to say you are not alone. People all over the world are struggling with grief and empty hearts this holiday season.
As I thought about what this holiday season would look like for my family and me, the thought of sinking back into my shell sounded like a grand idea. Halloween represents our last first holiday without my granddaughter as we have already been through the other holidays because she passed right before Thanksgiving. My family and I will start dealing with the anniversary of our granddaughter’s death, as well as the anniversary of my son’s death. As I watch all the people getting into the holiday spirit, it made me want to punch something, so I did! I punched the heck out of my bed and my pillow. I am pretty sure that the pillow will never be the same. After this, I took some of my ugly breakables (given by my friend after the funeral of my granddaughter, she knows me well) and threw them against the tree in the back yard. Lastly, I cried. I cried for me, I cried for my family, I cried for our loss.
When the feelings of grief, guilt, anger, etc… overwhelm you remember that it's normal to feel this way. The waves of grief and brokenness do not have time frames or boundaries instead they hit when they hit.
How to survive
There're ways we can help ourselves and those we love who are suffering from grief, loneliness, or depression, during this holiday season. Below are some ways to help move you through the grief during the holiday season. There're also some tips to help others that we love who need extra support. Use them as a takeaway. Take what you like and throw away what does not suit you.
Love one another. If you have loved ones who are struggling through this season, be there for them give them space, and love them
Understand that they may lash out, cry, or act differently than you are used to but it's okay. Give them space to figure out who they are in this new role
Ask them what they need, and be there for them. Do not give up on them. The anger and sadness will not last forever and the more support and love they receive the better the healing process and their Holidays will be
Tell people what you need. If you are the one who is hurting then be honest with your friends and family. Most people can handle the strong emotions you are feeling and they want how to help. Are you unsure about what you need? Do Do you want space or closeness? Do you put up a tree and decorate or skip this year and don't put up the tree? Do you need to yell, or punch the pillow? Then do it. Tell others you need to hit something. The movie Steel Magnolias has an awesome scene about this topic. I’ll attach it to the end of the blog for your enjoyment
Avoid alcohol. While I will say “Man!!!! I need a margarita!!”, I seldom follow through with that statement. Not because I have anything against having a drink, but when your heart has been broken, alcohol will not fix it. It's a poorly constructed Band-Aid that leaves the hurt to still pour out. It's best to avoid anything that can impair your judgment and cause regrets
Skip the holidays altogether. Yep, it's okay to skip the holiday and keep on moving forward. Though most people do not want to skip the holidays, what they may want is people to understand what they are going through while they make it through the holidays.
Give. Start to take a look at the holidays differently. GIVE. Ring the bell for the Salvation Army, donate time at the animal shelter, help at your church or local charity. Donate money in your loved one's name. This is a great way to honor your loved ones. Giving can be healing
Go overboard. Yep, the opposite of skipping. Hang more lights, have all your friends over for hot chocolate, do a holiday book study, bake so many cookies you have to give them away. Notice I did not say eat them all or go crazy spending money but what I am suggesting is that you make it the best holiday season ever
Journal all your emotions, feelings, and struggles
Give gifts to others less fortunate that do not have the same resources as you
Play music loud. Let it change your mood and bring you up
Love on your friends and family
See a therapist
You knew that the last one was coming! If you are feeling overwhelmed and you cannot work your way through your grief it's time to talk to someone. Seek guidance from a professional counselor, a minister, or someone you trust to guide you through this time. It's okay to need someone. Find someone that can truly help. Take the time to reach out to the community for a qualified grief counselor in your area. Take care of yourself.
This is the last of my grief series I hope that you have found some hope in my writings. Please, know that I am in this struggle with you. My family and I wish you love through your grief and that you find your way to a smile again.
Here is the clip I promised.
Thank you for allowing me to be a part of your day!
Cheryl Gilbert is an LMFT in the state of Kentucky. To find out more about her click here.
Live. Life. Balanced.Today is a blog written by licensed marriage and family therapist.
For more information about counseling go to www.LifeInMotionKentucky.com