A season when celebrations, traditions and togetherness abound, the holidays can amplify our feelings of loss, sadness and loneliness and be challenging for those who are grieving. Gatherings, decorations and memories that were meant to spark joy may now serve as painful reminders of your loss.
Mary-Frances O’Connor, Associate Professor at the University of Arizona, and author of “The Grieving Brain” explains, “Grief is the natural response to being aware of a loss and, during the holidays, you are going to be more aware because we carry out all the rituals we’ve always done with the people we’re close to.”
Putting yourself first this holiday season
We all experience grief differently, and we all heal differently too. A reminder to take a mindful approach and do what feels right to you in each moment. We hope these tips and rituals will help you navigate and acknowledge grief this December.
- Allow yourself to grieve
Finding ways to acknowledge both the visible and invisible moments along the grief journey is critical to our wellbeing.
Ceremonies and rituals are designed to kickstart the invisible intent of healing and mourning. There are many ways to weave ritual into your life following a loss. Grief & legacy ceremonies — whether it be a celebration of life, pet loss ceremony or a death anniversary ceremony — can offer you ways to honour the love you hold and the stories you carry.
Please remember that grief isn’t a one-size-fits-all prospect. There is no right or wrong way to grieve; nor is there a normal timetable for grieving.
- Set clear boundaries
While it is impossible and unsustainable to avoid the festive season altogether, it is important to know your limits and set healthy boundaries. Choose to surround yourself with people who love and support you, or allow yourself time to grieve, reflect and meditate to stay present and centered during the holidays. Don’t forget to move forward at your own pace and check in with yourself on what feels right.
- Create new rituals
Some people find comfort by honouring old traditions, while others find them unbearably painful. Take a moment to plan ahead and decide which traditions you want to keep, change and create.
Consider creating a new ritual that accomodatates your current situation and honour the past in a meaningful way:
- Mourning meditation: Bring to mind a personal loss, and allow yourself to sit with what you’re feeling.
- Grief cooking: Recreate a meal or a dish that connects you with the person or moment you’d like to honour or acknowledge.
- Recreate the best day: Consider what made up the perfect holiday with the person being honoured and try to invite as many of those aspects into your day.
- Light a candle: Light a candle in honour of not only the memories but also your loss, grief and courage.
Healing and Empowering Through Community
Eventually the holidays will get easier, but only if you allow yourself time and space to process your grief. Through speaking openly, moving slowly and asking for help, you advance in your healing journey.
We are hosting a free virtual workshop for Be Ceremonial account holders on December 27, 2022 from 2pm – 3pm PST, to guide you through the foundations of ritual and ceremony with a focus on Closing the Year. This will be a safe space to share all the twists and turns you have encountered this year, and to ask questions about our services, ritual and ceremony and beyond. Register here
Partnering with the End of Life Doula Association, our co-founder, Megan Sheldon is also hosting a virtual workshop on grief rituals for the holidays on Sunday, December 19 at 6:00 pm PST. Learn more
We hope you can find ways to honour your grief as the year draws to a close. Find out more about our Grief & Legacy ceremonies, or consider gifting one to someone you know who is having a challenging time this time of the year.