The signs of the holidays are here. The Christmas tree displayed downtown, holiday lights shining ever so brightly, holiday music playing, numerous presents to buy and wrap all of which can be very stressful. Add on Also all the cleaning, cooking, and prepping the house for those relatives you see once a year. When holiday stress is combined with trauma and grief, it can feel as if it is too much to bear.
Our society has an expectation that this is how the holidays should be but when you’ve lost a loved one to violence, keeping up with others may not be the best method. If you don’t set up the tree, bake 20 dozen cookies, or even celebrate at all, you might feel like something is wrong with you. We want to emphasize that nothing is wrong with you.
The holidays are a time of great stress and moments of sadness seem to appear more often than other times of the year. We asked current clients tell us how they get through the holidays. Here are their responses:
“Right now (for this year anyway) I’m just taking it one day at a time. I have had some things cross my mind that I would like to do, but engaging in those idea’s makes me feel like throwing up to be perfectly honest. I’m still trying to work my way out of that deep hole.”
“I’m still not sure how I’m getting through the holidays. I want to decorate, but haven’t been able to force myself to do it yet…I always have loved Christmas, but the last couple of years it has been a bit more than I can bear. I am hoping as the years go on, it will get back to being a time that I truly enjoy and not one that I’m trying to figure out how to make it through.”
Some of you do want to celebrate, decorate, and enjoy time with family. This too can cause mixed emotions. You may wonder, if I’m having a good time, does that mean I’m not remembering my loved one? Am I not grieving enough? Moving forward and creating new traditions may feel like you’re leaving your loved one behind. Doing something, anything, that makes you feel good, starting new traditions, remembering your loved one in a special way and spending time with those special support people can help during the holidays. Give yourself permission to engage in whatever traditions make you feel better, or permission to skip them entirely. We encourage you to find what works for you.
For more tips for coping with the holidays, click here.
If you or anyone you know needs a little extra support during this time of year, Families and Friends of Violent Crime Victims have trained advocates that will answer the phone 24 hours a day. We will be accessible on Christmas and New Year’s Day as well. Please call 1-800-346-7555 if you need us.