Grief and the Holidays: Ways to Cope and Comfort by Caleb Anderson
The holidays are notoriously difficult for people who are still grieving the loss of a loved one. It doesn’t even have to be a recent loss-- this time of year is highly advertised as a time to spend with those you are closest to. Seeing that reminder in every print advertisement, on the television, in the displays of every storefront, and even in the songs on the radio constantly reminds a person of the one they lost. The grieving process never really stops, it only gets easier to deal with as the years go by. Feelings of isolation, guilt, anger, and depression can persist for quite some time.
Live the Hygge Life
You know that feeling when you are bundled up in comfortable clothes and wrapped in a warm blanket; you are sitting by the fireside or you have your favorite candles burning; you’re grasping a mug of warm tea and in that moment you are just… comfy? In Scandinavia, there is a word for that feeling-- hygge.
If you are having a rough moment, day, or even week, take some time to create a hygge environment in your life. Bundle up under the covers with a cup of hot cocoa and your favorite movies. Or go to a cozy cafe take in a good book you’ve been wanting to read. Finding hygge is about taking care of yourself, which is something grieving people often neglect to do.
We all need to exercise in one way or another. Exercise supports humans physically, mentally, and even emotionally. Modern humans generally live a very sedentary lifestyle which is unnatural for us. Taking time to be physically active helps regulate our body’s chemistry including cortisol and endorphins levels. It doesn’t have to be much-- just 30 minutes of light exercise a day. That can be as easy walking your dog, riding your bike around the neighborhood, or even doing a bit of gentle yoga for grief in your living room. This exercise is about taking care of yourself and your body rather than burning calories and building muscle.
Embrace the Season
If everything around you has to be so jolly-as-advertised, you might as well play into the spirit and take advantage of some holiday fun. Avoiding your feelings isn’t healthy, but the occasional distraction can make it easier to get through the season. Pick your favorite activities that are what you love about winter:
- Go see a special screening of a holiday movie at the local theater.
- Attend a bonfire or cozy up by your own hearth at home.
- Spend time playing with your dog outside in the snow. Or just cozy up with your pet indoors.
- Tour your city’s best holiday lights and decorations.
- Listen to your favorite holiday music while you do things around the house.
- Go sledding or ice skating.
- Throw an “ugly sweater party” where people get to wear their tackiest holiday attire.
- Bake your favorite holiday treats.
- Volunteer with a local charity that needs extra hands during the holidays.
The holidays are a difficult time for people that are grieving. We are constantly reminded that this time of year is to be spend with the ones we love, which can be a harsh reminder that one of your loved ones is gone. To help get through the season, embrace coziness with the Scandinavian concept of hygge. Don’t forget to take time for yourself to exercise. It only takes 30 minutes of light activity a day to help boost your mood. Finally, take advantage of all the season has to offer. You shouldn’t repress your emotions, but a fun distraction every now and then is fine.
Alanna is the Owner and Clinical Director of Breathe., LLC. Alanna is a Licensed Clinical Addictions Specialist, Registered Yoga Instructor, and Certified Heartmath Trainer. Alanna has over 20 years of experience working in the addictions field. Alanna takes a holistic approach when working with clients, combining the mind, body, and spirit in counseling.