While the holidays are a time of family, friendship, and cheer for many, it is also a time of grief for some. Many people more acutely feel the loss of a loved one or the loneliness of a break up over the holidays.
I’m no stranger to grief. My mother lost a hard fought battle with lung cancer on the night I graduated high school. Within 6 months, I had left behind the only town I had ever knew, and entire community of friends I had grown up with, and was in a city where I knew virtually no one with little emotional support from my family. By the time I was 25, my father said I had been to more funerals than anyone he knew. By the time I was 28, I had lost all four grandparents, several other older relatives, a best friend to a drug related car accident, and two other dear high school friends. Prior to meeting my husband, I also experienced several break ups of relationships I thought were going somewhere.
As a life coach who utilizes many therapeutic tools in my practice, I am often called upon to help people through transitory periods in their lives.
Here are 7 of my top tips to cope with grief:
- Allow yourself to feel the grief. There is a saying which goes “what you resist persists”. Trying to ignore or stuffing down uncomfortable feelings down will simply make you ultimately feel worse. Find a way that feels authentic to you to express your true feelings (keep reading if you need some ideas).
- Practice self-care. In this time of too much too do and not enough time, its easy to forget all about your lovely self. Take yourself on a nature walk, go to the movies, or book a massage. It just might help take the edge off.
- Write your feelings out in a journal. I did this all the time the first few years after my mother transitioned, and I recently took it back up to process some more recent grief-inducing experiences. I personally find writing melodramatic poetry to be especially therapeutic. Just don’t ask me to read it to you 😉
- Stay present. There is a yogic saying which states “depression is caused by looking at the past, anxiety is caused by looking at the future, and happiness, happiness is always in the present moment”. While to can be very easy to be consumed by thoughts of the past over the holidays, it can be very grounding to stay in the present moment, and enjoy whatever is there to be enjoyed, even it is as simple a a drop of rain on a leaf or the taste of pumpkin pie. Meditation can help teach you to simply sit and be present (particularly mindfulness meditation techniques).
- Start a gratitude journal. Oprah Winfrey said “if you write down 3 things a day you are grateful for, your life will transform”. I did this every day for about 2 years; and I am going to have to agree: practicing gratitude will change your life, your mindset, and even your brain. it’s hard to be consumed with grief when you are focusing on gratitude. Try it!
- Get Support. While it can be tempting to hole up alone from before Thanksgiving until January 2nd (especially if you are an introvert) now is not the time to have “lone wolf” syndrome. Tell your friends and family how you are feeling. If you don’t have supportive friends and family, or, if you want the to expedite the process, it might not be a bad idea to get professional support – there is no shame in that. I often say “we all need someone sometimes”. Many modalities, such as EFT, NLP, Psych-K and hypnosis, can help you more easily process and bring the charge down on some of the grief.
- Realize death isn’t the end. One of the most startling and awe-inspiring aspects of the work I do is how frequently people’s deceased loved ones “come through” during their healing sessions (particularly during hypnosis sessions). I am always amazed at the startling accuracy at which details are able to come forth that reassure the loved one that the occurrence is not, in fact, a product of their imagination (or mine). I have started to be less surprised at the therapeutic effect this has on my clients, though. Personally, I feel my mother has communicated with me in many ways over the years, whether it be in a dream, a feather where there shouldn’t be one, or that still small voice I often hear when I get still and quiet. Occasionally she will send a message though one of my friends. It’s a great reminder that in some we are always connected, and it’s always comforting. You may be surprised at the eagerness with which your transition loved ones will leave “signs” for you too, if you invite them in.
You will be OK.
Jennifer Gaynor-Yaker is a Los Angeles Life, Relationship and Performance Coach, NLP, Psych-K, & Master EFT with Source Technique™ practitioner. Jennifer helps people get clarity on their ideal life, breakthrough obstacles and blocks, and create a life they will love. For inquires about private or group coaching sessions with Jennifer or one of our other coaches, please see our “Get Started” page or email firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also call (818)288-6358.