Originally posted on December 9, 2013.
Dear Visible Man,
I recently lost a loved one. This is my first holiday season without my beloved. I am not feeling the holiday cheer. I feel like I have to fake the “spirit” i.e. jolliness and laughter. I don’t want to be a downer and rain on others. Got any suggestions on getting through this?
Lacking The Spirit, Seattle, WA
- Be kind to the self.
- Instead of attempting to get “through this,” seek balance in your journey.
- Embrace your feelings instead of distancing yourself from your emotions.
As the holiday season and celebrations approach, you may be consciously or unconsciously preparing the psychological self to react to the grief associated with your loss. There is the tendency to believe that you are alone, even when you are with others. Rest assured that many are having the same experiences, but like you, may have chosen not to communicate or share what they are feeling.
- Don’t focus on controlling your emotions or how you feel. If tears are building within, have the willingness to express them.
- Don’t “man up”! Allow yourself to focus on your human qualities. Understand there may be feelings of disappointment, frustrations and delays.
- Be willing to share feelings of sadness with others. Instead of seeking ways of distracting yourself from the pain, acknowledge and process it. In sharing with others, you are working to let go of or balance the feelings that are there.
- Give yourself permission to take a “time out” interacting with or entertaining others. Be willing to give yourself permission to spend time alone with your thoughts and feelings.
Take care of your (physical) self.
- Avoid overeating & drinking alcohol as coping mechanisms.
- Eat and enjoy regular balanced meals.
- Eat something nutritious before attending a social party.
- Never drink alcohol on an empty stomach. Be aware that alcohol, even combined with snacks, can still be dangerous.
- Focus on rest (naps) and maintaining regular sleeping patterns.
- Create a reasonable exercise program.
- If feeling rushed, stop and breathe deeply and slowly. Take the breath from down in the diaphragm. This will allow immediate feelings of relaxation.
- Pay attention to the psychological self.
- Spend time alone. Take time for meditation, massage or relaxation.
- Spend time with friends in normal settings.
- If feelings of depression or anxiety are overwhelming, schedule time for counseling and reflection with a counselor or mental health professional.
“When you react, the situation has a hold on you. When you respond, you have empowered yourself to be reflective and seek balance in the situation.”
The Visible Man