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Getting through the holidays after losing a loved one

Posted at 1:31 PM, Oct 27, 2015
and last updated 2015-10-27 15:31:55-04

Korinne Bouwhuis, Marriage & Family therapist, gives us tips on getting through the holidays after losing a loved one. You can find more information here.

1- Plan Traditions Intentionally

----Discuss as a family, might be surprised what small things make a big difference and what big things really only make a small difference. Conserve your energy and use it efficiently.

----Which traditions should stay the same, thoughts of new traditions? You want to honor both constancy and change.

----Consider thought towards adding personal and individual traditions. Honor your specific relationship, not just "who that person was."

2-1st Year is Different

----Do what feels right now. Some of the best new traditions to recognize the change of life after loss may  be "fallen into" by honoring your feelings and experience at this moment.

3-Then & Now

----When you are further out from the initial loss, consider compiling a then and now list. Give yourself some credit and recognition of your increasing strength and reinvestment in life despite the loss.

4-Sharing with Others

----Talk about loss and grief genuinely, then talk some more. Accessing the language center of the brain when dealing with something traumatic and intense actually helps our bodies to digest the stress, activating our processing of the stress in different regions of the brain.

----Often others stop talking about the loss, "not wanting to remind" the grieving person about it. They are thinking about it anyway, it doesn't leave them. So as friends and others, dare to speak up.

----For the grieving person, recognize that the opposite is also true, some people in their good intentions may say too much, or things that are not helpful. Robin Hood Movie "There are no perfect men, only perfect intentions." Focus on intentions when necessary.

5-Gratitude creates positive psychology

----Keep a list of every kindness shown to you. Not only creates a more positive mindset but helps with feelings of loneliness by increasing awareness of connections that are still present in your life. A life of meaning and great connections and relationships is still available to you (even if it doesn't feel like it at times).