Coping with the Holidays

Once a source of joy and celebration, the holidays often present a special challenge for those who are grieving.  While the anticipation of the holidays is often harder than the day itself, there are a number of things that people who are grieving can do to reduce their angst during the season. Drawing on its experience of helping people through the grief process, Treasure Health offers these suggestions for coping with grief during the holidays:

Eat and Sleep

Your health and well-being depends on proper eating and sound sleep.  When facing difficulties, these are usually the first routines to go.  Be sure to make eating and sleeping your top priorities. Only when you are rested and nourished should you consider taking on additional tasks. If appetite and sleep difficulties persist, seek medical consultation.

Trust Your Wisdom

Each of us has the capacity to overcome difficulties and within us is the knowledge of how to do so. Each person’s journey through grief and the holidays will be as unique as the loving relationship they mourn. Listen to the inner guidance that tells you what you need, what you can do, and what you are not ready to attempt.

Be Honest and Gentle

Difficult emotions are part of the grief process, but are often unwelcome at holiday celebrations. Now more than ever, you may try to avoid or hide your feelings. However, the best way to cope with difficult emotions is to acknowledge them and greet them with gentle kindness. Be honest with yourself and others about how and what you are feeling. Let friends and family know it is normal for you to feel sad, and that it is okay if you cry.  Go easy on yourself and don’t push yourself too hard.

Be Informed

Learning about the grief process is one of the most important things you can do to help yourself. If you know what to expect, you will be better prepared to deal with a loss.

Reflect on Rituals and Traditions

Traditions and rituals exist at the core of every society to transmit values and beliefs from one generation to the next, connecting the past to the present. When they fit, they give life meaning and comfort. When they don’t, they leave us feeling lost and distressed. In difficult times, people tend to engage in all-or-nothing thinking. After a loss, there is a tendency either to continue holiday traditions without change or to impose a moratorium on them. But these valiant efforts to keep going or to shut the world out don’t stop the pain of loss. This year, instead of taking an all-or-nothing approach, take time to reflect on your thoughts and feelings about the holidays and acknowledge the presence of your loss. To help bridge the gap between your grief and the holidays, identify your thoughts and ideas about the upcoming season:

  • What holiday traditions do you observe and what do they mean to you?
  • What symbols represent the occasion?
  • What feelings do these symbols inspire in you?
  • At the most basic level, what is the meaning of this holiday for you?

Think about the plans you make and the feelings you have. What is the meaning behind it? How is that meaning important to you now? Give yourself permission to discontinue activities that don’t fit anymore.

 

Honor Loved Ones This Season

During the holidays, many people find it helpful to honor or remember loved ones who are no longer here.  Some ideas include:

  • Talk openly and honestly about the loved one who is not present. What are your favorite memories of holidays spent together? What special contribution did he or she bring to festivities? How might you continue this tradition?
  • Create a space for holding thoughts about your loved one. Write your thoughts down. Select something symbolic to hold these notes. You might hang a stocking or use their favorite object. Select a time to read and reminisce over the notes.
  • Make your loved one’s favorite holiday food. Talk about how this became a holiday tradition.
  • Purchase a live tree or plant. Lovingly decorate it, plant it and nurture it in the coming years.
  • Continue the legacy of the love you shared by exchanging gifts. Purchase a gift FOR your loved one and donate it to someone in his or her name. Purchase a gift FROM your loved one that will comfort and nurture you during your season of loss.
  • Say a prayer, light a candle or place a picture of your loved one in a special place to acknowledge their continued presence on this day.

Recognizing, expressing, and accepting a loss is fundamental to the healing process.  This is especially so during the holidays.  Whether you incorporate one or more of these suggestions into your plans this season, remember to care for yourself each and every day.  That alone will go a long way to healing as you find comfort in fond memories and renewed meaning in the season.

 

Jacki Nardone, Director of Counseling and Pediatric Services, shares tips for coping with grief during the holidays.                  

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A Message from Our CEO

Susan de Cuba

President and Chief Executive Officer

Few creatures inspire as much wonder as the hummingbird. Tiny, yet strong enough to migrate 500 miles across the Gulf of Mexico, this brilliant bird is the ultimate symbol of resilience. So it’s only fitting that we have incorporated a hummingbird into our new look and logo to symbolize our organization’s life-affirming mission.

Under the Treasure Coast Hospice name, we have grown our services beyond our cornerstone hospice program to include palliative care, grief support counseling and specialized pediatric care. To better reflect our expanded scope of community services, we have changed the name of our parent organization to Treasure Health, while our flagship hospice program will continue to be called Treasure Coast Hospice.

Hospice will always be the heart of our mission. The same outstanding care the community has known since 1982 will continue. The experience we’ve gained during the past 35 years translates well to other services that improve quality of life. Our full spectrum of support includes Treasure Coast Hospice, Treasure Health Palliative Care, Treasure Health Pediatric Care and Treasure Health Grief Support.

With all of our services, our goal is to empower patients and families with the knowledge and support they need to make every moment count.  Guiding our efforts is a caring community of health professionals, volunteers and donors. Like me, they believe that in all stages of illness, everyone deserves to experience the best possible quality of life.

With our comprehensive, compassionate approach to palliative care, hospice services and grief support, we are building communities that allow people to drive their own destinies for the highest quality of life in every health circumstance.

We are excited to embrace a fresh brand that helps us promote our life-affirming philosophy and look forward to having you join us as a trusted partner in supporting our community’s healthcare journey.

For more, see our spring newsletter
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Five Wishes ®

“Five Wishes ®” is an easy-to-use legal document written in everyday language to help you plan how you want to be cared for in case you become seriously ill. It is America’s most popular living will.

You decide: With more than 18 million copies in circulation, “Five Wishes ®” helps you express what you want in the areas that matter the most to you: personal, spiritual, medical and legal. It helps you describe what good care means to you, whether you are seriously ill or not, so your caregiver knows exactly what you want.

Gift to your family: “Five Wishes ®” can help start and guide family conversations in advance of serious illness, so completing it is a gift to your family, friends and also your doctor. It keeps them out of the difficult position of having to guess what kinds of treatment you want or don’t want.

Meets Florida law: “Five Wishes ®” meets the legal requirements for an advance directive in Florida and 41 other states. All you need to do is check a box, circle a direction, or write a few sentences. Once it is signed and witnessed, your “Five Wishes ®” becomes a legal document.

To learn more about “Five Wishes ®”or to schedule a presentation for your group or community, please email Craig Perry  in Martin County or Tracey Kinsley in St. Lucie County.