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How to Hold Space for Grief During the Holidays

It’s okay to not be okay.

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, but for many of us it certainly doesn’t feel like it. Life doesn’t get put on hold for the sake of our calendars. In this season of merriment, many of us are navigating loss, pain, grief, and hardship.  

For many of us, our world doesn‘t feel merry and bright.   

Perhaps you’re mourning the loss of tradition, feeling the absence of someone around the table the year, or grieving the discrepancy between what you thought life would look like and what it actually looks like. It can feel incongruent to hold space for grief amongst the bright twinkly lights, upbeat carols, and smiling faces all around us during the holidays.  

If you’re feeling particularly heavy this time of year, you are not alone. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) reports that 64% of individuals with a mental illness feel their conditions worsen around the holidays.  

So, what do we do when the holidays don’t feel happy? Do we medicate our feelings with extra doses of eggnog, cookies, and holiday spirits? Do we unload our burdens on the well-meaning acquaintance at a party who asks how we’ve been? Do we pretend to feel jolly when we’re simply not in a festive mood? Or do we just put our heads down and march forward until January 1st? 

What if we told you that you didn’t have to pretend to be happy this holiday season? What if you could honor where you are and hold space for your grief (and every other emotion you’re feeling)?  

9 Ways to Honor Your Grief During the Holidays  

1. Create space physically, mentally, emotionally 

This holiday, instead of jamming your schedules so full you don’t have any room to connect with what you’re experiencing, give yourself permission to create the space you need.

2. Share with safe people 

If you’re not feeling the festivities, instead of isolating and avoiding people, we invite you to let safe, supportive people into your experience.  

3. Let your emotions take up as much room as they need 

Diminishing, downplaying, and denying our feelings doesn’t make them smaller. Instead, it often makes them feel larger and less manageable.   

4. Process what you thought this season would look like vs. what it looks like now

For many of us, the expectations we had for this season don’t align with our reality. It can be helpful to name the things that are misaligned to make room to accept and find gratitude for what is.  

5. Be gentle with any voices of guilt or shame 

Whether the voices of guilt and shame are coming from your own head or from those around you, grief is complicated. There is no right way to grieve. Offer up the generous assumption to yourself and others, that you’re all doing the best you can with the tools available to you.  

6. Let yourself feel joy, should it arise 

Sometimes when we’re grieving, we can feel guilty if we do experience moments of joy, celebration, or lightness. Our joy does not diminish our grief or mean we care less. Give yourself permission to feel whatever you’re feeling. Often, our grief makes way for joy to be felt at a deeper level.

7. Communicate what you need and how others can support you 

Often, the people in your life want to show up for you but don’t know how. What would it look like to ask for what you need? Would you not show up out of guilt? Would you ask for permission to change the gathering or tradition? Would you ask a friend to check in on you a couple of times a day via text? Get honest with yourself and make the ask.  

8. Give yourself permission to say no, stay home, or choose not to share 

You’re allowed to do what is best for you in this season. Release yourself from obligation, take a deep breath, and extend yourself the grace and permission you need.  

9. Let your body tell you what it’s feeling; cry, yell, sit in silence—whatever you need  

When we don’t have the words for what we need, our bodies have a way of alerting us how to move through our grief process.  

It’s okay to not be okay this holiday season. It will not always feel like this. You’re allowed to be affected by it. Grief is not something we move on from, it’s something we move forward with. 

Grief has a way of alerting us to what matters most. It matters, and you matter. If you’re experiencing grief this season, we honor and see you right where you are. May you extend yourself grace, love, and light. 

For many of us, this year held a lot—a lot of change, a lot of growth, and a lot of hardship. Perhaps, like me, you’re looking to 2024 as a welcomed new beginning. 

Whether you find yourself dancing or crawling into the new year, we invite you to consider giving yourself the gift of more as we close out the year.  

To help you start 2024 off on a new path, we’re giving you a special offer on our flagship experience—the Living Centered Program.    

When you attend a Living Centered Program in January, you will receive $1,000 off your program. 

This discount can be used for either of the Living Centered Program experiences happening this January on our Tennessee Campus. Spots are limited so register soon!  

> January 4-10   

> January 25-31   

Whether you’re in a challenging season or just want to learn and grow, this program meets you where you are to help you transform your life. 

This program has helped thousands of people worldwide find the hope and healing they deserve. If there’s any part of you that is telling you that you deserve more, I encourage you to make the call today. Our team is here to answer any questions, calm any fears, and equip you down a path of healing. 

Call 800-341-7432 or begin the process here

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