"It is okay to not be okay"
As the holiday season approaches, many find themselves struggling to cope with a recent loss. Whether it be a loved one or a beloved pet, those affected by grief often have difficulty enjoying the festivities of the season. It can be especially trying if this is your first holidays without that person or animal in your life. Though grief can seem overwhelming and hopeless, there are ways to make the holidays more manageable and bearable during this difficult time.
The first step is to recognize that grief is normal and understand that while it may not always feel like it, you will eventually heal from your loss. Acknowledge your emotions - no matter how hard they might be - and be gentle with yourself as you go through them. Allow yourself to feel what you need to feel without judgement or guilt.
It’s okay if things don’t look exactly the same as they did before. Take time to create new traditions of your own that honor your loss while still finding joy in celebrating the season. Spend time with people who bring you comfort and peace during this difficult time rather than forcing yourself into uncomfortable situations out of obligation or guilt. Focus on self-care activities such as deep breathing exercises, meditation or yoga, journaling, art therapy or any other calming activity that resonates with you personally.
It also helps to remember that everyone is different - some people might choose to focus on their loved one’s memory instead of avoiding it altogether, for example - so take comfort in knowing that whatever you decide is valid for your situation specifically and should be respected by others who care about you during this tough time. Know that there isn't one “right” way to grieve; everyone will do things differently depending on their individual circumstances and preferences.
Grief can be a lonely journey but know that you aren't alone even if sometimes it feels like it. If needed, seek professional help such as talking therapy sessions or a support group in order to process what has happened in a healthy way and gain tools for coping better during difficult times ahead. Remember: It's okay not to be okay but also know when it's time to reach out for additional support when necessary in order navigate these emotions constructively and holistically so they don't spiral out of control; ultimately taking steps towards healing at an acceptable pace for yourself.
If you are in crisis, you can call or text 988.