Losing a loved one is always difficult.   Losing a loved one during the holidays can seem impossible to process.  Over the past few days, some people who are particularly important to me reached out to let me know that they lost people incredibly special to them.  Most of these losses were unexpected.  I have written extensively about grieving in my blog.

They told me that they reached out to me because they knew that I could be a resource because of being a grief coach, but right now they needed me as their friend.

During each of these calls or texts, I went numb.  My legs felt like tree trunks.  I just wanted to take their pain away.  I wanted to make sure I didn’t say anything offensive to them in their vulnerable state.  So, I put my coaching training to work, and I just let them talk, and I listened.

The Grieving Process

The problem I find with the grieving process is there is no quick fix solution.  We live in an instant gratification society, and we want a solution to a problem right now, actually a solution yesterday is even better.

The grieving process takes time, and it is very individualistic.  My relationship with my mother was different than her relationship with my brother, father, and even her sister.  We each processed her death differently because of our different relationships with her.

Grieving never ends, it just gets more tolerable.  It’s like building a muscle, you work to build the muscle and then you keep working to maintain its definition.  That’s the same with grief, you need to keep tending to it.

Grieving man with his hands on his head.

Tips for Processing Grief

There is no “how to” guide for processing grief.  Everyone processes it differently, but this is what I have found to be most useful for myself.  I hope that it helps you too.

  1. Give yourself the time and space to process the grief.  Don’t sweep grief under the rug, it will rear its ugly head later and be even more difficult to deal with.
  2. Be selfish.  More often than not, you are the person who takes care of everyone and everything.  Let your support system take care of you and don’t be afraid to delegate.
  3. Find sources of support.  Friends, family, clergy, or support groups to name a few.
  4. Have realistic expectations and know that in one moment you may feel great, and five minutes later, you may feel so much pain, it seems unbearable.  This is normal.
  5. This is the most important tip-there is no right way to process grief, and no one can tell you that you are doing it wrong or that you need to stop grieving.

Losing a loved one is always difficult.  Losing a loved one around the holidays is especially devastating because you have family traditions that they will no longer be able to take part in.  You will get through the holidays, it will be more difficult, but nothing that you can’t manage.

Holding hands in comfort.

How You Can Help

If you know someone who is grieving a loss during this holiday, give them a little extra attention (if they want it).  The holiday season is so busy for everyone. Those of us who are lucky enough to be celebrating with our friends and family need to remember that there are those of us who aren’t, and they are hurting.  Be nice, be pleasant, and give a little extra of whatever you can.  Believe me, this is appreciated by those who are struggling this holiday season.

2 Responses

  1. Meredith, I related and appreciated this particular blog. Its amazing how grief pops up when you least expect it. The holidays are already emotionally loaded and the addition of grief can be treacherous. In mentioning grief, I found that society doesn’t really recognize the loss of a sibling as much as parent, spouse/partner, child. I found this out the hard way when my older brother died of cancer in 2009. It should be acknowledged.

    Thanks again for sharing this.

    1. Thank you, Lynne, for your comment. I really appreciate you letting me know how this blog post related to you. Thank you for bringing up the loss of a sibling. I’m sorry you had to find this out the hard way. I will use this as a suggestion for a future blog post as it is relevant for so many.