Institute of Professional Grief Coaching (IOPGC)
Holiday advertisements have begun playing. The store aisles are stocked with decorations. Seasonal movies are listed on the cable networks. While all of this is bombarding you, the headlights of your heart grow dim as you enter this dark tunnel of the inevitable. The fear, uncertainty, and apprehension of coping with the unavoidable holiday season is front and center.
Holiday grief can be hard. It’s not easy to smile when others are celebrating family traditions, shopping and exchanging gifts, and enjoying the season. It’s not easy to pretend you are happy for others when your heart is broken because your holiday hopes, dreams, and expectations have been shattered. It’s challenging to feel joy when you feel robbed of what brought holiday joy to your life. It’s almost impossible, even seemingly unappreciative, to tell others who mean well to stop saying things like, “I understand how you feel,” “Don’t be selfish,” or all the statements that begin with “At least …” Responses such as these don’t really help.
After losing a loved one, grief is one of the heaviest burdens we carry, and is heightened when the sights, sounds, and smells of the holiday season confront us. A client once asked, “How can I make the holiday season disappear and skip to the next year?” You can’t and unfortunately some who try to do so go into grief isolation and spiral downward.
Statistics indicate that it takes, on average, 5 to 8 years to recover from a devastating loss, such as loss of a loved one. We say, that with the proper education, tools, and support it doesn’t have to take that long. In the From Grief to Gratitude Coaching Program, we share the Five Pitfalls of Holiday Grief and takeaways to help avoid them:
Anxiety and Stress. In many instances, the anxiety and stress experienced is due more to anticipation of the upcoming holiday season rather than the actual holiday. The pain and absence you might feel is natural and normal; however, focusing only on these feelings create more anxiety. The mind, body, and spirit all work together, so the broken heart, if not addressed, can wreak havoc on your whole body. Let the pain and hurt out so you can make room for hope, love, and gratitude.
Holiday Traditions. When your family circle has been broken, you might have no energy, no holiday spirit, might get an academy award for pretending to be okay. Remember, this is your journey, so don’t do activities that will cause you anxiety and stress. Do as much or as little as you feel, especially if this is the first holiday season without your loved one.
Guilt and Regret. Getting beyond the “should haves, if onlys, ought haves, why didn’t I’s” takes time, patience, and work. Whether these thoughts are rational or not, the feelings are very real and must be acknowledged and released. Beating up and blaming yourself for something you did, or didn’t do, something someone else did or didn’t do, can cause you great mental and physical harm. Talking to someone, either a non-judgmental friend, grief coach, a counselor or therapist, or journaling are great means of releasing guilt, regret, and even anger.
Fear of the Future. First of all FEAR and FAITH can’t live in the same house, so you must choose one or the other. Yes, fear of your unknown future can overwhelm you. Loss of a loved one can create fear due to new responsibilities, loss of income, security, emotional support, companionship, faith, self-esteem, sense of belonging, just to name a few. Look for and open your heart to receive the beauty, miracles, joy, and all the possibilities of your ‘NEW LIFE.”
Moving Forward. You might feel the need to turn inward and say “I’m strong. I can handle it myself.” The pain of loss and the process of moving forward can be overwhelming, and a very difficult path to walk alone. Without help, guidance, and support, some often remain stuck with their pain… in the flat tire zone. Think about where you go from here, what the death of your loved one has taught you, or what legacy they left? And now, what about your own legacy? Life is here. It is now. It is waiting for you.
Grief is the journey. Gratitude is the destination.®
Grief Coach Certification
Grief Coach Certification
Registration is now open for our grief coach certification class beginning January 10, 2023. Classes are held live via Zoom for eight weeks.
In response to the demand for online learning and certification, you can now complete the From Grief to Gratitude Coach Certification Program at your own pace.
Holiday Grief Webinar
Holiday Grief Webinar
A Season of the Heart
Dora Carpenter, CPC
If I can stop one heart from breaking, I shall not live in vain. If I can ease one life the aching, or cool one pain, or help one fainting robin unto his nest again, I shall not live in vain.
And when great souls die, after a period peace blooms, slowly and always irregularly. Spaces fill with a kind of soothing electric vibration. Our senses, restored, never to be the same, whisper to us. They existed. They existed. We can be. Be and be better. For they existed.
Life brings tears, smiles, and memories. The tears dry, the smiles fade, but the memories last forever.