Change & Grief
Suggestions for Dealing with
the Holiday Blues
Journey of Hearts
A Healing Place in CyberSpaceTM
The Holiday season can be particularly
difficult for those who have lost a loved one. For those facing the first
Christmas, or the umpteenth Christmas (or holiday equivalent) spending
the season without a loved one can be difficult. For many people the Holiday
season is a time that will inevitably trigger memories of Holiday season's
past, or the season that never will be. In dealing with this time of year
it is important to remember the words of Elisabeth Watson:
This page is a longer listing of
suggestions for helping to deal with the "Holiday Blues." (for a shorter
version see Suggestions for Coping
with the Holiday Blues). The listing is from several different sources,
including some brainstorming sessions with friends and colleagues, for
what works when we are depressed. Many are just common sense suggestions
for every day life, and ways of dealing with the blues...all year long.
Suggestions for Dealing with the Holiday Blues
It is important to recognize
it is not abnormal or even unusual to feel sad or depressed during the
holiday seasons, or around other special dates--anniversaries of births
or deaths or special occasions. Holidays and special dates can trigger
an episode of "the blues," feelings of loneliness, depression and melancholy,
especially if one is still in an active grieving process.
We have tried to compile a list
It's okay to cry.
Work on creating new rituals and traditions. Respect the old ones, but
create new ones, perhaps even involving a new type of remembrance.
Especially if you are grieving, don't trying to be all things for all people.
Learn to set realistic limits on your energies.
time, make time for yourself. If possible do something self-indulgent a
massage, a new hair cut or even just a bubble bath.
Call, visit, write or e-mail a long-lost friend, someone who is house-bound,
or an elderly relative.
Get plenty of sleep and exercise.
Try to minimize the amount of drinking and eating. During periods
of "the Blues" excessive drinking or drinking will contribute to the depression
and the associated guilt.
Spend time with people who care about you, who are nurturing and supportive.
Try and limit the amount of time spent with people that drive you crazy.
Enjoy free activities.
Walk in the Community park,
Watch the sunset,
Smell baking bread,
Browse through books or magazines
in bookstores, or grocery stores (especially in sections you don't normally
Window shop without buying
Listen to Outdoor Christmas Concerts
Enjoy Christmas Carolers
Donate your money or time to a local Homeless shelter, Battered Women and/or
Children's Shelter, Hospice, Cancer Association, Hospital, Church, SPCA
or Humane Society. Its a way of helping those who may have less.
Keep daily expectations manageable. Remember the adage of taking "one day
at time." Set realistic goals, decide what you can comfortable handle,
what you can do and cannot do. Let your family and friends know about your
Realize that each holiday, birthday or anniversary is only one day. Take
them one occasion at a time.
Consider doing something in memory of departed loved ones.
Create rituals to remember the loved one. Create a "letting
Set up a scholarship.
Dedicate a bench or plaque.
Plant a tree.
Adopt a needy family, donate to
the homeless shelter for the holidays.
Donate money that would have been
spent on a gift to their favorite cause.
Publish an ad in the local paper
to remember an anniversary.
Get out in nature, walk, hike, enjoy feeling the winter chill, or the rush
Light a special candle.
Play a favorite Song.
Hang a certain ornament.
Hang a stocking for the loved one
in which people can include notes.
Listen to music liked by the loved
Write letters or notes expressing
your feelings, share them with others if it seems appropriate.
There is no right or wrong way to deal with certain occasions, or anniversaries.
Decide what will work and then let people know. Try and keep things open
if you feel like joining at the last minute. Try not to spend time alone,
if it will make you more depressed, or suicidal. (I spent
many by myself, because it was less stressful than dealing with the family
Remember the French Proverb:
It's okay to enjoy yourself,
to laugh and to have fun. Laughter is healing and is not a sign of disrespect.
Think about the person you have
lost and try to imagine asking them the question, "Is it O.K. for me to
enjoy myself now?" I think you will discover the answer to be "YES."
Keep trying, you may find someone
else who is also experiencing the blues and would welcome the chance to
talk with a pleasant stranger and may become a new friend.
Blow bubbles (it makes you feel like a kid again)!
Go to a bookstore or library and try browsing in a section you wouldn't
normally go to. Open your mind to a different style of writing.
Go to or rent an uplifting movie. Some of the ones that always make me
Buy a live tree or plant, create a ceremony and plant it afterwards, in
memory of someone as a link to Christmas' of the future.
"It's a Wonderful Life"
"The Miracle on 34th Street"
"Sleepless in Seattle"
"The Princess Bride"
"Bed of Roses"
"It Could Happen to You"
"The Sound of Music"
"The Wizard of Oz"
"The Full Monty"
Look for your local community activities--Fun Runs, Park and Recreation
Department, Community College.
See a play or find a concert, at your local high school or college to be
around people. Check your local paper for listings and ideas.
Attend a church service. This can be helpful for those who are dealing
with a loss, but providing an extra place for support. This may be beneficial
to people of all ages, including singles. Many of the churches are becoming
good places for singles activities.
Go to the library or bookstore and find a new book.
a poetry reading.
a journal to record your thoughts, feelings and writings--to share or just
to get out of your system and on to paper.
Join a health club, YMCA or local Community Park and Recreation Department
for exercise classes.
Try and keep a cheerful disposition with sales clerks, people waiting in
lines, people in the produce section of the grocery store or your favorite
, people walking their pets in the park.
Simple, genuine statements can
often lead to conversations e.g. "How do you prepare...a particular food
item," "That color is really flattering. It brightens up my day!" "I need
to pick a present for my....(fill in the blank). What do you think of this?""
What type of detergent do you recommend?" "What a handsome dog!" .
was at the post office this week, waiting in line with the rest of the
holiday mailers and struck up a conversation with a woman waiting to mail
packages to her grandsons. We got to talking and I mentioned just hearing
the news about my grandmother. She shared her experiences with her parents
how she too had lost her mother to Alzheimer's and then later her father
quickly to a stroke. I would like to think that by talking about her parents
we brought back some memories of Christmas's past. She also shared
her joy of Christmas future. Her daughter, whom she nearly lost to Ovarian
Cancer, was coming to spend Christmas with them.
||Do not forget to entertain
for by so doing
some have entertained
without knowing it.
A simple sharing of losses and
we discovered that we had much in common, a way of passing the time, but
even more so, a way of remembering.
Last updated December 13, 1998
The Angel Adrienne is © Angelic
Artistry and used with permission.
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