Time might make the wound a little smaller. But the holidays can often trigger pain and sadness. We just have to find strength and support to help us navigate the journey.
– Melissa Batchelor, PhD, RN, FNP, FGSA, FAAN
Many things count as grief and loss – from the actual death of a loved one to the loss of a significant relationship. As cliche as it may sound, there’s not one way to deal with grief and loss during the holidays.We’ve all just lived through a pandemic that took a lot of lives and loved ones away from us. As the holidays approach, it may be more challenging to deal with the celebrations—decorating, maintaining or foregoing family traditions, getting your shopping done, and deciding what holiday events you can handle. And it doesn’t matter if this is your first holiday without a loved one or the 20th. For caregivers, they face the double loss of the person they cared for and their role as a caregiver. They may need to talk about their losses, and these feelings may be positive or negative.I’ve heard grief described as being like the ocean with its waves that ebb and flow. Sometimes the water is calm, sometimes, it’s overwhelming. And the healthiest response is going to be to learn to swim – rather than avoiding the water. In today’s episode of This Is Getting Old: Moving Towards an Age-Friendly World, I’ll share four tips to help you learn to swim if you are experiencing feelings of grief and loss this holiday season.
Key points covered in this episode:
✔️Tip #1: Take Good Care of You—Self-Care Is Not Selfish
Be gentle with yourself. Give yourself permission to not do things that you don’t feel like you can handle. Be in tune with your emotions and how you’re feeling in the moment—be okay with itMake sure that you’re planning healthy meals and eating good food that’s healthy for you. See to it that you’re getting plenty of exercises, drinking plenty of water, and avoiding alcohol— that’s going to make you sadder. Don’t miss getting enough sleep.
✔️Tip #2: Get Support—Cry, Laugh, or Get Mad—It’s OK to Feel It All
There may be different triggers to grief and loss, and you shouldn’t feel like you have to stifle your emotions.
Set aside time to experience the range of emotions you may experience – from anger to sadness. You should be truthful about your feelings when asked, but be sure that you don’t hurt the person doing the asking. More importantly, release your emotions by watching a tear-jerker of a holiday movie – or one that makes you belly laugh. Both are fine and healthy ways to release normal feelings.
✔️Tip #3: Acknowledge and Honor The Loved One That You’ve Lost
Create new traditions in memory of your loved one. You can donate to a cause they are passionate about, volunteer and donate your time, or plant a tree.Talking with close family and friends to reminisce and remember the person and good times with them can be helpful. You can also look at family photos, watch old movies and share stories of past holidays.
✔️Tip #4:Focus on What You Can Control—It’s All About the Present
None of us really can control when someone else dies or if they leave a relationship, or maybe we end the relationship. Stay focused in the moment and not get too caught up in the past and not worry too much about the future because that’s why it’s called the present.
You can cook your favorite meals, eat your favorite foods, and then even journal about your thoughts and feelings might help you to ease out what’s within your control and what’s not.
✔️A Thing To Remember: There’s No Right Or Wrong Way To Process Your Emotions
Be sure that if you are grieving and need help, you find family and friends that you can turn to. But also realize that many people feel awkward if you try to share your feelings. It would be best to decide if that’s a person that you can trust to handle your own emotions. Furthermore, you can draw comfort from your own faith. You might need to try to find a support group or talk to a therapist or a grief counselor.
If you have questions, or comments or need help, please feel free to drop a one-minute audio or video clip and email it to me at email@example.com, and I will get back to you by recording an answer to your question.
More Resources About Memory And Alzheimer’s Disease …
This Is Getting Old has several other episodes about memory and Alzheimer’s. You can check them out below:
- EP: 65 – What are the Stages of Alzheimer’s Disease? Part I: Symptoms of Early- and Late-Stage Alzheimer’s Disease
- EP: 66 – What are the Stages of Alzheimer’s Disease? Part II: Symptoms of Late- and End-Stage Alzheimer’s Disease
- EP: 64 – Alzheimer’s Disease and Living Alone: Four Signs Someone May Not Be Safe at Home Alone
- EP: 63 – Alzheimer’s Disease and Driving: Five Signs That It’s Time to Take the Keys
- EP 38: Ten Tips for Preventing Alzheimer’s Disease
I earned my Bachelor of Science in Nursing (‘96) and Master of Science in Nursing (‘00) as a Family Nurse Practitioner (FNP) from the University of North Carolina Wilmington (UNCW) School of Nursing (SON). I truly enjoy working with the complex medical needs of older adults. I worked full-time for five years as FNP in geriatric primary care across many long-term care settings (skilled nursing homes, assisted living, home and office visits) then transitioned into academic nursing in 2005, joining the faculty at UNCW SON as a lecturer.
I obtained my PhD in Nursing and a post-Master’s Certificate in Nursing Education from the Medical University of South Carolina College of Nursing (2011) ) and then joined the faculty at Duke University School of Nursing as an Assistant Professor. My family moved to northern Virginia in 2015 and led to me joining the faculty at George Washington University (GW) School of Nursing in 2018 as a (tenured) Associate Professor where I am also the Director of the GW Center for Aging, Health and Humanities.
Find out more about her work HERE.