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How to Balance Grief and Celebration

Grieving can seem quite at odds with celebrating, yet these are two valid and common emotions people experience after the loss of a loved one. There are many things that can help you balance out these emotions, such as bereavement services in Alameda County and elsewhere. From support groups to counseling, it’s important to recognize and embrace these emotions as you navigate this complex time. This can be tough, especially during the holidays.

After losing someone you love, you may have noticed many people around you who are expecting you to get over your grief and move on, which does nothing but add to the difficulty of the situation. Celebrations, especially at the holidays, can feel like a mockery of the emptiness you’re feeling, not to mention a judgment about your sadness, points out Virtual Hospice. As a result, you may feel out of step with your friends, family, community, and culture. But you’re not alone. Seek out others who are all too aware of those gaping spots left behind by the death of someone they love.

Give Yourself Space

First off, it’s important to give yourself enough space to grieve, while allowing the sadness to set in yet not overwhelm. Just because you lost someone you love doesn’t mean there aren’t reasons to celebrate. You may be facing your own wedding, the birth of a child, a job promotion, or other personal milestone in your life. Brushing those celebrations of achievements aside will only compound your grief. So give yourself permission to grieve yet also allow yourself to celebrate the next journey in life.

It can seem trivial to worry yourself with the details of a wedding, such as choosing a cake flavor or the flower arrangements or stressing about choosing a name for your new baby. You may wonder: does it even matter? Well, it does, and you need to make space for your grief in order to feel free. Your grief won’t fully go away; it’s just the intensity that changes. The best way to adapt to loss is to make space for the emotions you’re feeling so you can re-engage and form some meaning in life without your loved one, says Better By Today.

Finding New Ways to Live

Holidays are tough times to be facing loss. At a time when your bereavement is recent and fresh, you may try to do all you can to just “get through” or “survive” the holidays. In fact, you may hold this attitude for many years after experiencing a significant loss as a way of acknowledging and expressing the pain and distress of the void that has been left behind. This can leave a deep ache and sadness that can make the holidays feel like torture. Take this opportunity to develop new ways of coping with holiday time by recognizing the grief you’re feeling.

Within your family circle, share with one other the feelings that you’re all having as the holidays approach. Honor old traditions while creating new ones to result in a sense of stability yet hope in the midst of devastating change. It’s important to look for ways to include the loss in your holiday without making it the primary focus so you can forge new steps in healing.

Handling Anniversary Reactions

When loved ones pass away, grief is not just a one-time thing. You will likely feel it again and again on special days and events throughout the year. These are called anniversary reactions, and they are reflections of the impact your loved one had on your life, says the Mayo Clinic. It can be tempting to view them as setbacks, but they’re not — they’re just another way to heal.

It’s inevitable that you will be faced with constant reminders of your loved one, whether you visit their grave, hear their favorite song on the radio, or mark the anniversary of their death with some kind of ritual. Holidays and birthdays can also trigger intense feelings, and then there are the new events that make you wish they were there to see it. Even celebrating memorial celebrations for others can re-ignite the pain and sadness of your own loss. And finally, sights, smells, and sounds can come at your without notice, plunging you back into the despair you felt right after losing them. All of these things can happen during traditionally happy times, such as at a Christmas party or seeing a holiday lights display when out driving.

Bottom line is, grief often comes in waves. You may feel like you’re doing well, coping with holiday celebrations just fine, and then out of nowhere, you’re hit with a wave of sadness. It’s natural and it’s normal. On the other side of the coin, there will be times when you feel genuinely happy for a few moments at a time. Don’t feel guilty. Those are normal too.

Contact Pathways Home Health and Hospice

Pathways offers bereavement services during the holidays and throughout the year to help people balance grief and celebration. To learn more, call us at 888-978-1306.