How to Practice Self-Care While Grieving During the Holidays

holiday blues Nov 18, 2023
sad woman on the couch in front of a Christmas tree

Last year, my mom passed away at the beginning of December. I had been her caretaker for a few months, and the experience was both challenging and rewarding.

After settling her affairs, I went back home 10 days before Christmas. 

Throughout the years, I've had lots of different experiences for Christmas. Some of them were spent traveling, with family or friends, and even a few by myself. However, nothing prepares you for the absence of a loved one for the first time during the holidays. 

Last year was the first time that I didn't have it in me to celebrate the holidays in any way. No decorations, no celebrations, and I certainly couldn't stand to watch sappy, holiday movies. I was doing the bare minimum and trying to manage my grief and recover my energy. 

During the grieving process, self-care is incredibly important. There are times when you won't feel like showering, eating, or leaving your bed and it feels like the whole world has been turned upside down. I get it. I've been there. 

Here are a few things that helped me not only function during the holidays but recover my energy and interest in life again. 

1. Food or grocery delivery

In the movies, there's always someone trying to bring you a casserole after a family member passes. Honestly, that would've been so awesome to have during the first few weeks because it's common to lose your desire for cooking or skip meals when you're upset. 

Thankfully, there were a variety of delivery options for me to choose from. I concentrated on making large meals so that I wouldn't have to cook very often or ordering extra takeout to last for a few meals. 

Although you may be tempted to eat the worst food possible (because comfort food usually isn't the healthiest), try to balance it with fruits and vegetables to improve your energy and mood. Don't forget to take your multivitamins or any supplements if they were a part of your normal daily routine. 

2. Re-establish your routine 

Since I was my mom's caretaker, it meant that I had been away from home for a few months. It felt strange to be back home and I struggled to get back into my routine again at first. 

When you're grieving, familiar routines can help anchor or ground you when you're feeling an overwhelming sense of loss. Thankfully, I had dogs to walk (I also adopted my mom's dog after she passed), and very understanding clients who gave me grace. This gave me a sense of purpose beyond my grief which was helpful to pull me out of my funk. 

I made a point to shower, wear fresh clothes, and make my bed every day even when I didn't feel like it. Slowly but surely, I added in other things like cooking a little bit more, heading out to the stores myself instead of relying on delivery, and stopping to chat with my neighbors again instead of avoiding contact with everyone. 

3. Lean on your community

During the grieving process, everyone responds to consolation differently. Some people prefer to grieve alone and in private (like myself) because getting sympathy from others can make you feel worse. I know that people meant well, but the times I received sympathy is when I would generally burst into tears.

However, I did make a point to reach out to my friends because I needed a sense of connection. Grieving privately doesn't mean you have to be alone 24/7. There's massive value in sharing your troubles with others. That's one of the reasons people bring over those casseroles!

Other people prefer to grieve in the company of others and consolation and sympathy feel very soothing. If you follow this grieving pattern, then you may fare worse when you feel alone or disconnected from others. 

There's no right or wrong in the grieving process but allowing other people to help you is incredibly healing. 

4. Seek counseling or ask for help if you need it

After Christmas, I was still struggling. I thought that once Christmas was over that I would feel better. Since helping others is basically my job, I knew that I could only grieve so far on my own, and I needed help to go the rest of the way. I was really stuck in the sadness and anger stages of grief, and getting an outside perspective helped me reframe things in a beneficial way. 

So, I reached out and began coaching and counseling sessions. Plus, I would ask my friends to help me reframe things when I needed it or just to vent. Seeking outside help is priceless, my friends! Local churches and other organizations often provide grief counseling sessions that can be helpful if you prefer group support. 

5. I used alternative grief support

I'm not afraid to bust out the woo-woo tools especially when it comes to energetic and emotional healing. I used crystals (rose quartz, mother of pearl, rhodonite, and black tourmaline) to stabilize my emotions and a flower essence remedy (Bach Flower Rescue Remedy) to help move out the grief, sadness, and anger.  I can honestly say, these made a HUGE difference in helping me bounce back quickly to my usual optimistic self. 

6. Take care of your physical needs

One thing that I wish I had done was a little more physical pampering. Getting a massage, manicure, chiropractic, or even a haircut are all beneficial forms of self-care and self- love. Also, getting plenty of rest and exercise will help you feel better. 

7. It's ok to socialize or say no if you don't feel like it. 

Depending on where you are in your grieving process, you may want to socialize with others during the holidays. If so, then be realistic about what activities you feel prepared to do and don't say yes to activities out of guilt. Taking little breaks to get some fresh air or escaping to the bathroom to shed a few tears is absolutely ok. Don't push yourself too much if your grief is still fresh. Your loved one would absolutely want you to celebrate the holidays again when you feel ready. 

Thankfully, I've moved through the bulk of the grieving process and am excited to rejoin holiday celebrations this year. Don't get me wrong, the Hallmark Channel has already caused me to shed quite a few tears with their Christmas movies, but I'm ok and I know you will be too. 

If you need some extra help with your grief, then I'm here for you, my friend. Please, don't hesitate to reach out and set up a FREE consultation about how resilience coaching can help you in your grief journey. You can book your consultation HERE . 

 

April Darley is a Confidence and Resilience Coach specializing in helping overwhelmed women release anxiety and doubt so they can become more confident, decisive, and have better quality relationships with others. Through the Three Brain Realignment Technique (TBRT), you'll learn how to step into your own power, and comfortably deal with life's challenges. 

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