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Feelings of grief and loss can be especially intense around holidays and holy days.
Kelly Baltzell, M.A., CEO of Beyond Indigo, stresses the importance of taking care of yourself during this time of the year:
The holidays take considerable energy. Put both together and you have the potential of being exhausted and even sick by the time the celebrations are over. It is important to:
• Slow down! You do not have to go to every celebration, every office party, every family event; and you definitely do not have to accomplish every single item that is normally on your holiday “to do” list. Why not look over your gift list and give everyone gift certificates instead of presents this year? You might want to consider how you can give differently, or instead of giving gifts to friends and relatives, you might donate to a cause that your loved one supported.
• Repeat the word No! Some people struggle with saying, “No, I am sorry I just can’t do the party,”--or the dinner, or whatever—“this year.” People will understand if you are not able to attend every function or event. If people are not listening when you say “No,” be honest with them. Tell them it is just too hard this year after your loss.
• Be specific about your wants and needs. Grieving, at least in the United States, leaves friends and family not knowing how to help the grieving person. People get worried that if they ask you about the death, or ask what you need, you might fall apart. Unfortunately, it therefore falls upon you, the one grieving, to state your needs and wants.
• Eat, sleep and drink! Even if you do not want to eat and keep your liquid intake high, it is critical that you do so. It is important to keep up your strength while you are grieving. If you are having trouble sleeping, talk to your doctor. Keeping your body healthy will also help you to keep your mind healthy and strong while you grieve.
• Remember to cry. Crying is a natural outlet of grief. Don’t try to hold back the tears. Let the tears flow-- even if you are in the grocery store, at a holiday party, or visiting a friend.
After a loss, holidays and holy days do not have to be miserable times of the year. They can be times when the lives of your deceased loved ones are honored. When you are ready, start to change how you include deceased loved ones in old and new traditions.