Newsflash: not crying doesn’t mean you’re not heartbroken.
Have you been feeling a bit off and can’t put your finger on why? Sure, life is pretty hectic with everyone wanting to get ready for the silly season, but what if it’s more than that? For many people, the lead up to Christmas is a time when they experience grief without being consciously aware of it.
Unfortunately, grief is something we all experience and the realization of lost loved ones is most prominent when families gather at Christmas. For most, it will be due to the passing of a loved one. Tragically, for others it will be the devastation that a loved one is missing. Either way, there is a significant loss and Christmas time can surface emotions which are out of our control.
Regardless of the circumstances the first Christmas is always the most extreme. This is a time when grief is raw and emotions are fragile. It is a very personal experience, so some loved ones will grieve much longer and far more profound than others.
As the years pass by it can get a little easier, however, upon the lead up to Christmas some people aren’t aware of why they experience changes. This can also happen upon the lead up to birthdays and anniversaries. Individuals may get upset easily or feel lethargic, tired, irritated or depressed. It’s a strange phenomenon which happens to many people and is difficult for individuals to comprehend. All they know is that they feel bad, but can’t put an explanation on why.
Strangely, after these events pass, this feeling eases. However, it’s during this time that individuals may experience changes in their behavior. These include insomnia, changes in appetite, loss of desire, plus some may partake in erratic behavior like consuming too much alcohol, taking drugs or gambling.
It’s when routine behaviors shift, that they can indicate symptoms of much deeper issues. So if someone is sliding into altered or unhealthy behaviors, there is usually a reason why. Instead of focusing on the behavior, you need to look past them and acknowledge the underlying feelings and emotions that are causing them.
Once these are identified, the feelings and emotions can be addressed. In most cases, it’s grief rearing its ugly head. It’s an exceptionally uncomfortable emotion and people avoid it any way they can. Instead of avoiding grief, it is an emotion that is best tackled head on. The only way to do this is to acknowledge it for what it is. That may be easier said than done because there is no right or wrong way to grieve. There are only healthy and unhealthy alternatives.
Below are some recommended healthy alternatives to survive times such as Christmas, birthdays and anniversaries, when grief mysteriously appears.
1. Acknowledge grief for what it is.
2. Put extra focus on maintaining your mental health.
3. Eat properly.
4. Avoid alcohol and drugs, including irregular prescription medications, like Valium.
5. Get extra exercise.
6. Know that it’s ok to cry.
7. Talk about your loss and the feelings associated with it.
8. Do things which make you feel good.
9. Avoid isolating yourself.
10. Ask for help if and when you need it.
Lastly, if you or someone you love is overwhelmed with grief, please seek medical assistance. There may be something else wrong, which is masking itself as grief, so if unsure, make an appointment with a GP so they can run tests and make referrals to specialists if required. Look after yourselves and your loved ones and comfort each other in times of need.
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