Last night I listened to a webinar on Open to Hope* about how to handle the holidays. It was a one shot deal, so I listened carefully to bring you the highlights. Here are the 10 best tips I took away from the session.
- If you have a grieving friend but you are unsure of what to do or how to help, be honest. Say to that friend, “I want to be there for you, what can I do?”
- It’s ok to cry. Give yourself liberty to feel emotional and don’t feel you have to apologize for it.
- Find people where you can be your authentic self. Around some family members, it may be tough. Look into joining a grief support group, or surround yourself with friends and family who understand and let you be yourself.
- Educate your family. The second year is very difficult. There is a lot of emphasis on the first year, but I agree. My second year was very tough.
- When you’re going through grief, you can feel like you’re going crazy. Let yourself go through it and with time, you’ll feel better.
- Over time your coping mechanisms improve. One speaker mentioned that now when someone brings up the loss of her brother, or something reminds her of him, she cries or has some reaction. The difference is that after years of facing these struggles head on, she rebounds faster.
- Don’t be too hard on yourself. Sometimes we can place unrealistic expectations on ourselves. Do your best.
- Try to uphold your traditions. In the webinar, they suggested that avoiding these old traditions completely is only temporary avoidance. Eventually we all have to face our family and friends.
- Fake it until you make it. One person wrote in saying her family members expect her to be cheerful even though she is mourning the loss of her husband. A smile, even a fake one, sends your body and the room a positive message.
- Take care of yourself. This tip is great and it happens to be the theme on Trauma to Art** this month. We’re putting together a list of resources including recipes, songs, and exercises, all with the goal of being healthy. You can’t feel better until you treat your body, mind and soul the way it deserves to be treated.
*Open to Hope is an online resource helping people find hope after loss. It was founded by Dr. Gloria & Heidi Horsley. It is one of the best online resources I’ve found. After stumbling upon Open to Hope, I became one of their writers. You can find my articles here. Follow them at @opentohope.
**Trauma to Art is a website I launched in November of 2010 to encourage creative expression from those who have experienced loss. You can write in and tell your story, or you can weigh in on our monthly topic. Join the conversation.