As the holidays continue to sweep in one after the other, it’s a time of year where grief can feel masked by the momentum of colorful lights, decorations, and gatherings. Yet grief does not wait for a convenient time to meet.
For countless people the holidays are the most stressful, challenging, and heartsick baring seasons of the year. And with the “new normal” of a covid impacted world, so many are still trying to figure out how to navigate relationships with friends, family, and community. In the spirit of holding greater compassion for one another, we want to recognize these emotional difficulties that are so often overlooked by the glitter and frenzy of holiday cheer.
The last couple of years have brought us an ongoing storm of unprecedented changes and loss––and with any passing away of person or circumstance arises a natural progression of grief. Though grief may not be present in your life today, it doesn’t mean that it’s not present in the life of someone close to you. It goes without saying that grief and sadness can feel extraordinarily lonely, but these are natural states that we can support one another through well into the new year.
To anyone who wishes to join us in facing grief with grace, here are a few ways we are seeing through.
1. Practice Patience
Patience alongside grief are beautiful companions. Though it’s understandable to want to expedite the grieving process, the simple truth is that grief will move at its own rhythm and pace. Grief often comes in waves and it doesn’t necessarily make sense––which can feel intense and burdensome for day to day life––yet patience is a valuable tool that allows us to stay with the moments that feel hard, until we see ourselves through onto the other side of them.
It can certainly be painful to watch someone we care about walk through the trenches of grief, however the best way we can support them is by offering our patience as they navigate their process. Grief doesn’t always want advice, but it does ease with support.
2. Create Space
Grief will require some undivided attention. This means setting aside some time to intentionally do nothing other than sit with grief, and really hear it out. Grief comes with a whole spectrum of emotions and if they go unexpressed for too long they can make a person feel crazy, and overwhelmed. By setting aside small blocks of uninterrupted time, we can reflect and process through some of grief’s uncomfortable heaviness.
Creating a space for grief can look like taking a walk alone in nature, planning an evening with no distractions (tv, music, entertainment), grabbing a pen and pouring it all out onto paper, or simply allowing yourself to cry––there is so much catharsis and healing to be had when we make the time for grief to express itself all the way through without question. There is no right or wrong way to grieve.
Grief often gets lost in our busy-ness, our daily responsibilities, and routine interactions. But suppressing grief always ends up causing more harm than good, so let us remember to offer presence and companionship to our grief––and the grief of our loved ones––as a means to sustained wellbeing.
3. Reach Out
Lastly, it’s important to recognize that grief does not need to be processed in solitude. Grief is a part of this collective human experience and for that reason alone our friends, family, and communities can empathize, if only you open up to them.
In the moments when there are few words to say, there may be a friend who is willing to sit with you in that silence. There may be a group of people facing similar hardship, ready to welcome you in. And there may be a safe place you can go to touch back down with what is simple and true.