Updated: Jan 20
Whether your sorrow is related to divorce or death of a loved one, grieving during the holiday season can be very painful. If you have recently experienced loss, and this is the first holiday season, the suffering can be almost unbearable.
So what are some ways in which you can survive the holidays?
Here are 7 ways that will help you not only survive the holiday season, but will also help you heal during the grieving process.
1. Recognize the fact that the holidays are going to be emotionally difficult, so do not set high expectations for yourself—especially in the first year. Spend some time reviewing all of your traditional holiday activities and try to eliminate some of the lesser important ones in an effort to create margin in your schedule.
2. Even though it is good to do fewer activities to allow yourself time for grieving and healing, do not fall into the temptation of isolating yourself during the holidays. It is very important to be surrounded by people in general and especially loved ones. God created us to thrive in relationship and community. If you deny yourself of this basic necessity, the healing process will definitely become more difficult and will likely take much longer.
3. Accept the fact that you might become flooded with emotions at any given moment, and these emotions will likely come unexpectedly. This is perfectly natural, and one of the worst things a person can do is to ignore, numb, or avoid these emotions [For further information on this topic, sign up to receive my free L.I.F.E Guide- Overcoming Suffering]. Let your loved ones know up front that you might call off at the last minute or leave prematurely because you are not sure how you will feel. Simply recognizing that your emotions are going to be unpredictable is a great way to level-set your own expectations.
4. Continue to stick with your self-care plan. If you are not familiar with a self-care plan, reach out to a clinical counselor or certified life coach. Routinely rank yourself on a scale of 1-10 in the areas of spiritual, mental, emotional, physical and track your progress. If you seem to be getting stuck or are consistently at a low ranking in a particular area, talk to your counselor or life coach. Self-awareness and self-care are necessary for complete healing and are not “selfish” activities.
5. Try to participate in a service project. The first Christmas season after my divorce, I volunteered at the local VA (Veterans Affairs) for their annual Christmas party. Even though it was hard for me to muster up the energy to go, I pushed past my limits, and it was amazing how much I enjoyed serving at the event even though I was hurting deeply inside. This time of year is filled with opportunities to serve your community, and you will likely be surprised by how serving can heal a suffering soul.
6. Understand the difference between happiness and joy. Happiness is an emotional feeling that comes and goes while true joy is a state of being for those who have received a new identity in Christ. The joy that God has set before us is reserved for those who are called God’s children. If you have experienced this new birth, you can experience this joy even in the midst of your sorrow (John 16:22).
7. Lastly, but most importantly- hold on to the faith that has saved your soul and draw near to God. Humble yourself before Him; let Him know how you are feeling; and don’t hold anything back (I Peter 5:6-7). After all, He already knows your heart. Ask the Lord to direct your heart during your time of grieving so that you may heal and overcome your suffering (II Thessalonians 3:5).
At some point in time, every person will experience deep sorrow. If grief has entered your life unannounced this holiday season, and you find yourself in the midst of suffering, I hope this list will help you survive the holiday season.
Kevin Hover is a Christian Author and Life Coach. His new book, 'American Pharisee: Overcoming the Beliefs that Deceive' addresses the challenges surrounding suffering and faith. Like his Facebook page at @kevinhoverauthor and check out more blogs from Kevin at kevinhover.com