The Jewish holidays are intended to be a time of joy and celebration, but for those who are grieving, it can be a time of intense pain and struggle. Whether it's during Passover or any other holiday, the absence of a loved one can make it especially difficult to navigate. Coping with grief during the holidays requires a range of strategies and support systems.
In this article, we will explore effective ways to manage the feelings of grief during the holidays, keeping Passover in mind, as Passover is chock full of traditions that make it hard to forget the absence of a loved one.
Creating New Traditions to Honor the Memory of Your Loved One
Traditions play an important role in Passover celebrations, and creating new ones that honor the memory of the person who has passed can be a helpful way to cope with grief. Simple activities such as lighting a candle or creating a special ornament in their honor can provide a sense of comfort and connection.
Seeking Support to Cope with Grief
Grief can be an isolating experience, especially during Passover when everyone else seems to be connecting with family and celebrating. To break the feelings of isolation, it's important for you to reach out to friends and family for support during this time. Joining grief support groups or finding online communities will provide you with a sense of belonging and understanding. Seeking support is a healthy way for you to process emotions and prevent feelings of isolation.
Practicing Self-Care to Manage Stress and Feel More Grounded
Taking care of yourself is crucial during times of grief. This can include getting enough sleep, eating well, and engaging in activities that bring you joy. Practicing self-care can help you manage stress and feel more grounded during the holidays. It is essential for you to prioritize self-care during this time and not allow feelings of guilt to rob you from moments of joy. Remember that the deceased would not appreciate seeing you suffer.
Helping Others to Shift Focus Away from Grief
Giving back to others in need can help shift the focus away from your own grief and provide a sense of meaning and purpose. Volunteering at the Bikur Cholim, donating to a charity, or helping a neighbor in need are all examples of how you can give back. Helping others can also be a way for you to honor the memory of the person who has passed and feel more connected to them during the holidays.
Honoring the Person Who Has Passed to Bring Comfort and Connection
Finding meaningful ways to remember and honor the person who has passed can bring comfort and a sense of connection. This may include visiting their favorite place or making their favorite meal. These small actions are a way for you to keep their memory alive and feel more connected to them during the holidays.
Give Yourself Permission to Feel All the Emotions That Come with Grief
It's important for you to allow yourself to feel all the emotions that come with grief, including sadness, anger, and guilt. Giving yourself permission to feel can help you process your emotions in a healthy way. Allow yourself to cry. Journal your thoughts and feelings, and trust that you can experience intense emotions and they too shall pass.
Planning Ahead and Creating Boundaries to Reduce Stress and Anxiety
Planning ahead and setting boundaries can help reduce stress and anxiety during the holidays. This may include letting others know what you are comfortable with, such as not participating in certain activities or gatherings. Planning ahead can also help you feel more in control of the situation and less overwhelmed.
Connecting with Others Who Have Experienced Similar Losses
Connecting with others who have experienced similar losses can be exceptionally helpful during the holidays. This can be done through support groups, online communities, or even talking to friends and family members who have also experienced loss. Connecting with others can provide a sense of validation and help you feel deeply understood.
Reading Books About Grief and Loss
Since the holidays might leave you with more free time, spending some time reading books about grief and loss can be a helpful way to normalize your experience and feel less alone in your struggles. There are many books available that provide support, guidance, and practical tips for coping with grief during the holidays. We asked our OKclarity community to share their best book recommendations on the topic of grief and loss and we got a handful of excellent recommendations. Check them all out right here and choose the one that speaks to you!
These books provide insight into the grieving process, offer tools for managing emotions, and help individuals feel more understood and less isolated. Reading about the experiences of others who have gone through similar struggles can also provide a sense of validation and offer a different perspective on your grief and loss.
While reading books about grief can be helpful, it's important to remember that everyone's experience with grief is unique. It's okay to take what resonates with you from these books and leave the rest.
Reach Out for Professional Help
If you find yourself overwhelmed with grief in anticipation of Passover or any other holiday, it may be helpful to seek professional help from a therapist who specializes in grief and loss and understands the Jewish community. You can find some incredible professionals right here. They can offer guidance on how to cope with your emotions and help you process your grief in a healthy way. If you're feeling afraid to reach out for help, remind yourself that seeking professional support is a sign of strength rather than weakness.
Let's wrap up!
Dealing with grief during holidays is tough to say the least, but equipping yourself with strategies and support systems can help you cope. To manage your grief, try creating new traditions, seeking support from others, taking care of yourself, helping others, honoring the memory of your loved one, allowing yourself to feel your emotions, planning ahead, connecting with others, reading books about grief, and seeking professional help. Remember that everyone grieves differently, so it's important to be gentle and compassionate with yourself. You got this and we are rooting for you!
This guide was based on a live conversation I had with Michali Friedman, LCSW.
You can watch the full conversation right here:
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