The post-holiday season can have many challenges for those who are grieving the loss of a loved one. The holidays are stressful in the best of times. But while grieving, this stress can be overwhelming, and the holidays are often less than joyful and bright.
In addition to the stresses of the holiday season, there are also the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. Some may have decided to forego holiday gatherings altogether, meaning that grievers did not receive much-needed social contact and support. If a griever decided to attend holiday gatherings, taking the necessary extra precautions to safely gather adds a lot of stress and can hinder the festivities. Either way, everything is different, and these differences further reinforce the absence of your loved one, which can increase feelings of isolation, sadness and loneliness.
The holidays and the COVID-19 pandemic require grievers to think outside the box and try new things that can help them cope with the holidays and the post-holiday blues that follow. Here are a few tips for how to deal with grief after the holidays.
- After the holidays, take a break and rest. Be extra gentle and patient with yourself and allow yourself to distract from your grief as much as possible. Do things that you know will replenish you and make you feel better, like binge watch old movies while cuddling with your beloved pet. Or take walks in nature and enjoy some hot cocoa afterwards.
- Find someone you love and trust to debrief with about the extra stress and grief you experienced over the holiday. Pick someone you know will just listen without judgment or giving advice, someone who will just “be” with you. Or, if you find alone time to be replenishing, allow yourself to take the time you need. You can re-enter the world when the time is right and you’re feeling able to face it better.
- Keeping a journal is always a good way to express and process your feelings. Those hard feelings and intrusive thoughts can look very different on paper than they feel bouncing around inside your head.
- Stay in touch with loved ones by writing letters or cards to people you haven’t been in touch with for a while. Another option is to use Zoom or Facetime to visit with family and friends to find the support you need.
- Pick up a new hobby. During the winter months, try indoor activities. A couple of creative options are painting with watercolors or photography.
For additional grief support, Pathways of Hope℠ services are available to the friends and family of all Ohio’s Hospice patients, as well as anyone in the communities Ohio’s Hospice serves. For more information, please visit: https://www.ohioshospice.org/pathwaysofhope/