Holidays are supposed to be a jolly time of year where you’re surrounded by your friends and family and there’s nothing but laughter! You have endless love, joy, and even festive delights like parties to go to. Well, for some, that just may be the case…and yay for you! For others, it’s a bit more stressful, and sometimes a downright difficult time of year.
Well, this isn’t a post that’s going to bring you down and remind you of all the stressful things, but rather a (hopefully) helpful post about how and what to do for someone that’s going through difficult times. It may not be the cure-all, but I hope that this brings you some insight, and maybe some ideas about what to do (or in some cases, don’t do) in these situations.
I’d like to mention here that I am not a psychologist, and I’m not a doctor. If you are severely affected, then you may want to consult both in order to find a treatment that works for you.
Your friend is going through a loss in the family, and you’re not sure how to relate or what to say to them:
First and foremost, grief is something that is wildly different for EVERYONE. At some points in our lives, we will all experience grief, and we will not know how we handle grief (and the degrees to which we will have to deal with grief) until we go through it.
It also depends on the level of closeness your friend had with the deceased, and how long that person (or pet) has been gone.
Do yourself a favor and don’t panic. The best thing to do is to ask that person outright “How would you like to celebrate this holiday season?” or “I would love to know more about your relationship with [the deceased] if you’re open to talking about it.”
You see, it’s not about whether you’re comfortable. It’s about whether they’re comfortable. Nothing irritated me more than people ignoring my grief, or outright treating me differently, all because they didn’t know how else to deal with me. It’s best to just ask and let that person take the reigns…after all, they’re the expert in their grief and what they need.
On the flip side, don’t assume anything, especially bringing up their grief all the time, or make a big deal of it. Again, ask. You see, we don’t need constant reminders of our lost ones, but we also don’t want people to forget them. A conundrum, I know. Therefore, just ask.
You have multiple families that you have to buy presents for, and it’s difficult to coordinate the parties/get-togethers:
Oh boy, I’ve been there. My parents were divorced, and my father had very definitive rules on when we needed to be at his family’s gatherings. (And I mean we had to be there Christmas Eve, Day and Day after EVERY YEAR, NO EXCEPTIONS). Christmas (and Thanksgiving) used to give me palpitations and anxiety.
Hopefully you have an understanding party that is willing to compromise like I had, and you were able to make it so that New Years was spent with your Mother’s family to celebrate Christmas. If not, please do yourself a favor, and set boundaries now. If you don’t have a family of your own yet, you may later (or if you’re like me, you’ll just move over a thousand miles away and adopt cats and dogs that can’t be left alone for long). You need to set these boundaries early, and let your family know that yes, you love all of them and though that love is equal, you can’t be pulled in a thousand directions, and that they will have to work with you and take turns. (side note, let me know how this one works, because I couldn’t get my father to do this one iota.)
Since my parent’s passing, my brothers and I take turns going to Chicago to meet with our younger half-siblings and their mom. It’s my turn to go back next year. This is a system that works now.
If it’s that you have a LARGE family, and limited funds, here’s an idea: I have a friend who has a very large extended family. I love the way they do secret santa-like games every year. There’s a price limit, and nobody gets left out, and you don’t spend thousands.
You get the winter blues and don’t know how to shake it off:
Yep, been there too. I used to get Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD when I lived up north. The beginning of winter was fine, but when that grey winter went on and on for about 5 months, it got on my nerves.
Generally, it’s mild, and it will go away once spring shows up. But during the process, here’s what I did to cope with it:
- Find a new hobby that you can do indoors like crocheting, photography, or even painting, then use that hobby to bring color back into your life.
- Plan your summer vacation. Yep, it’s early, but having something to look forward to in the warm sun did quite a bit for me.
- Buy a pretty bouquet that reminds you of spring, and make sure to have a little vase next to your bed so that it’s the first thing you see, and the last thing to see at night.
- Change up your decor! Who says that you have to have your heavy winter decor until March? No one! So bring out the sea-shells, the light painting that reminds you of the beach, and get yourself a white noise machine that has a beach sound and set it on low. (Just a disclaimer, this tends to make me go potty a little more often, but you get used to it)
There, that’s all I’ve got for now! Hope this helps.
Happy Holidays everyone!
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