More and more of us are losing our loved ones and finding it difficult to express our grief. It's hard to get back into life as it was, let alone keep up our former pace. It's even more difficult to manage both the holiday season or days throughout the year. In this episode, learn the top ten strategies that I've found as a bereaved mom for seventeen years to help you manage all of them, year after year and a link to a quick and easy guide.
Download your guide here
3:25 Be Kind to You
4:27 Change Your Mind
6:03 Say No
7:53 Get it Wrong!
9:19 Have a Confidante
10:54 Don't Feel Guilty
11:54 A Memento
13:33 Do What You Can
Vonne's books (available globally in print or e-book)
"Lessons in Surviving Suicide - A Letter to My Daughter"
"Divine Healing - Transforming Pain into Personal Power"
"The Power of Change"
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Vonne Solis 0:00
Welcome to another Grief Talk Coffee Chat episode. I'm your host, Vonne Solis.
Vonne Solis 0:13
Okay, so welcome to another Coffee Chat episode on the Grief Talk Podcast. Everything you want to know about grief and more. Today I want to share with you the top 10 strategies to better manage the holidays after loss. So the first thing I want to say is that with these strategies, the longer you are in grief, the more you're going to be able to handle holidays on your own and just develop your own strategies and things like this. But if you are newer to the grief world, and depending on who you have lost, you may find these top 10 strategies that I've used for the last 17 years. Yes, I still use them to be of help to you.
Vonne Solis 0:55
So here we go with strategy number one. The first is tradition. And dependent on what traditions you have. What you grew up with. What you've had in your own family, depending on who you have lost and how recently you have lost them, traditions may really challenge you, at certain, you know times of the year and with certain holidays. So to be able to dispense with a tradition, modify it or even start one, experiment with them over the various holidays, the Christmas season and any of the other holidays is really, really key to understanding, you can't get it wrong. Whatever you end up doing, do not force yourself and do not pressure yourself to think that you have to keep up with traditions that may be taxing you. There are many, many ways to come up with new ideas that can turn into tradition that you really love to honor your loved one who has has gone. And with every death, particularly obviously, we mostly grieve those deaths that are loved ones closest to us. And usually those are family members. But whatever traditions that you are going to experiment with, try and you know, because they're an old tradition, and they don't feel comfortable, and you want to dispense with them, or you want to modify them, whatever you do, just know that anything is is okay.
Vonne Solis 2:17
Strategy number two is to remember to rest. It can be very taxing on your energy, if you are in grief, and have recently or not too long ago, lost a loved one. And this can even apply if you're struggling for a much longer time with the death of a loved one. It can feel like a real weight on your shoulders to carry the joy of the seasons that other people are feeling when you can't feel it yourself. So it's really, really important to allow yourself that with every Christmas tree ornament you hang, or every candle you put in the window, or every place setting you set at the dinner table for that great big meal you need to cook, or every gift that you may be wrapping, it can be really, really taxing on your energy. So, allow yourself to rest in between. Admit to yourself when you really are tired and whatever is before you mentally and emotionally prepping for this holiday season, whichever holiday throughout the year it may be, that you allow yourself to take a break. Rest. Have a good cry if you need it, and then get back to it in the timeframe that works best for you.
Vonne Solis 3:25
Strategy number three is to be kind to yourself. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves to do things, say things. Attend things, you know, for others mostly, and often very little for ourselves when we think that there's an expectation for us to act a certain way and be a certain way and specifically at the holiday season. So, if you have more recently lost someone and you're newer to grief, or the holidays, just like in my situation after 17 years, every single holiday that comes up throughout the year still challenges me in some way, it's really important to remember to use gentle language with yourself. Be kind to yourself. Use loving words. Pat yourself on the back. Remind yourself how much you've come through. Let it be okay that you're having you know, a meltdown or just struggling with whatever task is before you and give yourself a hug. Just be really kind to yourself with words and actions and let that tenderness envelop you throughout the holiday season.
Vonne Solis 4:27
Strategy number four is remember you can change your mind. This is so huge. And I have said before and I'm going to say here on this podcast, I've met so many people, holiday season or otherwise, that in grief, no matter who they have lost, as soon as you've lost a person that you love, the whole dynamic of your existence changes and they have really struggled with accepting social invitations. Arranging outings and social events for their friends, putting themselves last. And then when they feel that they can stand up to this behavior that is self-inflicted and imposed for sure, and go, I can't do this anymore, they may start to see friends drop away. So it's really important that you allow yourself to change your mind, if you have accepted a social invitation too quickly. If you have taken on too many obligations. If you have decided to do something for your own loved ones that when the day comes, you really you don't feel up to it. Whatever it is, that you are faced with, at some point, during a holiday season, or faced with any time during the year where a holiday or certain anniversary is coming up, just remember, you can change your mind. Whatever you've committed to, and you decide on the day, you can change your mind. The sky isn't going to fall down and your loved ones are still going to be there for you.
Vonne Solis 6:03
Strategy number five and kind of building on this idea that you can change your mind, you can say no! It's really, really important that the sooner you allow yourself to say no in your grief or any challenging situation you're going through, it gives you power. It gives you power to change your mind to actually say yes if you actually feel like doing something on the day, or taking on an added obligation. But more importantly, all of the usual things that occur during holiday seasons - socializing, shopping, entertaining, attending kids' school events, drop-in company, taking on extra obligations for family members. The list is just absolutely endless when people start preparing for the big holidays, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and any other holidays that aren't in my particular culture and personal life, but you'll know what they are important for you. And any of that pressure that starts building up at whatever point it starts building up, and again, even going back to strategy number one, doing away with tradition. This whole idea that you have become a different person in grief and after loss is just so key to understanding that you may have not quite figured out what you can and can't take on yet, as the various holidays approach and as the years go by, so please give yourself permission to say no. I always think it's better to say no first if you're not sure, and then with a little caveat, if I do feel okay, on the day, do you think I could change that to a yes? Most friends and an extended family members are just going to love wherever and whenever you can show up for them. And for you.
Vonne Solis 7:53
Strategy number six. It's okay if you get it wrong! Be aware that you might be trying many different things over the holidays throughout the year, and especially the big one. You're trying these different things. Traditions don't quite feel right. You're trying different things. And whatever you're trying, it still doesn't feel right. I tell this really brief story in some other settings where one year, I haven't really enjoyed having Christmas at home very much due to various circumstances, we couldn't always as a little family go away for Christmas. So this one year, I made three different trips to the store to buy different types of Christmas trees and new ornaments, thinking that a different tree and a different ornament was actually going to somehow lessen my pain and my anxiety around Christmas. And every single tree was a complete and utter fail. And on the third trip to return the third tree to the store, I basically was nearly traumatized by the experience. So we decided right then and there when I got home, that we were going to go away for Christmas. We were going to make this happen. And we did and it was one of the best Christmases we had as a family to that point in our collective grief. So it's okay to get it wrong. One day, you'll get it right.
Vonne Solis 9:19
Strategy number seven. Have someone to talk to. It's really, really important if you have a really close confidant. It may be a family member. Maybe just your best friend. It may be your spouse, it may be your partner, and it may even be your kids if you are struggling as a family in grief. It's really really important in my experience to share what you're going through. Why you think you're going through it, and what as a family, you can do to switch things up and make it much more comfortable. Less anxiety-inducing for you, which when one family member is anxious all of family members are anxious. And if you are an individual dealing with this on your own, there are a lot of people out there who are suffering right now in grief alone. And if you're watching this and this message is for you, think about who you can reach out to. And even if it might take a little bit of initiative on your own, listen to your heart and ask yourself what it is that would really bring you comfort. It may not be celebrating the holiday at all. And it may be that this is the year you don't want anyone to knock on your door, surprise you with gifts, invite you to dinner. It's really, really important that you understand what it is you do want. What what would bring you the most relief. And then sometimes just sharing, you know all this with a trusted confidant can help you figure all that out so you can make a decision. Remember, next year may be different.
Vonne Solis 10:54
Strategy number eight is don't feel guilty. And this is so important because the longer any of us are in grief, it's natural that things in life are going to feel joyous to us again. So, speaking to the idea that one day you will feel a belly laugh. One day you will enjoy music. One day, you might be whistling a tune. One day, you might see a spark of joy in the candle flame, or you know, a beautiful festive scent, or even maybe going shopping for presents. Whatever it is that you can feel a stirring of joy and happiness and even maybe some extra little love in your heart, embrace it to the extent that you can, and just let it be okay to be feeling and experiencing what you're going through without feeling any guilt. Your loved one who is gone wants you to be happy. Just remember that.
Vonne Solis 11:54
Strategy number nine. And this will be totally up to you if you want to do this, but it's to keep a memento of who you have lost out in the open in whatever holiday. And again, I'm sort of speaking to the bigger ones here. It's really, really devastating when you feel you have to put everything away that belonged to your loved one. Some people in grief don't even put photos up anymore. The loved one is gone and they get rid of all the belongings and don't have photos. Other people may have shrines. Other people keep you know, photos and mementos around. But the difference here at the holiday is to acknowledge your loved one. Feel free to talk about them and include memories of them and make it real that they were once part of these festivities. And acknowledge that they're not here right now and just let them in some way, be part of your experience through the holiday. Because it can just feel so much more accepting of the bereavement out in the open and the grief that everyone is feeling. And while you can't bring them back, even just by speaking about them a little bit and incorporate maybe even something that was sort of special just to your loved one, incorporate it somehow into your festivities, you know, that may even become a tradition. It's really wonderful keeping their spirit alive. I'll even say spirit more than memory. It's fun to think that they're actually with us as we celebrate. And maybe they are!
Vonne Solis 13:33
Strategy number 10. Above all, with any of these strategies, and any others you come up with on your own at any time of the year. Through any annual holiday. Any big festive season, only do what you can do when you feel ready to do it and you want to do it. This is going to be trial and error. The longer you are in grief, and the more holidays that you know come upon you. But trust me, having lost my child in 2005, so 17 years in my bereavement journey and having you know spoken with other bereaved people, I know that holidays present a real challenge for almost everybody, no matter who you have lost. It's such a big part of us to have to say goodbye to somebody. And there's a lot of hype around holidays. Spending money. Buying gifts. To this day, I still don't go and buy presents for anybody. In fact, we gave up gifting each other presents and decided to exchange it instead for experiences. So, find your way over the years. Whatever brings you the most peace. The most relief. Tthe most, eventually if not now, the ,ost joy. The most love. The most contentment as you reflect, and eventually integrate into your life and the life of your family and other loved ones, the perfect way for you to celebrate whatever holiday is upon you.
Vonne Solis 15:18
I'm including a PDF download for this episode on these top 10 strategies to manage the holidays, so that you can refer to it whenever you want to and just use as a reminder, wherever you may be getting stuck or too hard on yourself at whatever point throughout the holiday season. Thanks for watching. Thanks for listening. Until next time.
Transcribed by https://otter.ai