Grief is a part of the holiday season that is rarely discussed. For those of us who have had to deal with loss, the holiday period can be quite challenging. When we see other people celebrating with their families, we are hurt because we don’t have the same.
Perhaps we grieve the loss of these memories with our birth family, or perhaps we grieve the loss of the family we wish we had. In any case, it can be a time that brings up complex feelings and emotions that can be overwhelming.
What is grief?
It is important to note that grief isn’t only about the loss of people who have passed, but it can also apply to the loss of relationships with people who are still alive as well as our dreams, experiences, traditions, cultures, routines and more.
My experience of grief
In my own experience with grief as a result of my disownment, I can tell you that this feeling did not just “go away”. Over time, however, it has become less intense and I have learnt strategies to help me cope.
My Methods of Dealing with an estranged family during the holidays
Below I have shared some things that have helped me navigate grief and an estranged family during the holidays. I hope that they will help you, too.
1. Honour how you feel
There’s an unspoken expectation that the holiday time is supposed to be happy and is a time to look forward to. If this is not your experience, this is totally okay and valid. For me personally,fighting feelings of grief and sadness has usually made things worse. I’ve found that its helpful to sit with how I feel, acknowledge the emotions that are present and allow them space to pass through.
2. Switch off from social media if you need to
It can be triggering for some of us to see all the “holiday content” that bombards our feeds during this period. Its important to note that social media is not always what it seems and just because someone looks like they are having the perfect holidays, this doesn’t mean they actually are. Switch off from your social media if you need to.
3. Reclaim your holiday for yourself
You may no longer have the same experience or customs around your holidays that you used to, but this doesn’t mean you can’t create your own new traditions. Find ways to celebrate that give you joy.You now have the freedom to choose how you celebrate this day.
4. Ask for help if you need it
Reach out to a friend or your therapist if you aren’t feeling great. Lean on your support network and allow them to help you when you need it. My Facebook group “Brown Girls Rising” has been a pillar of support and strength for me and many others who have experienced feelings of grief.
Summarising – Christmas with an Estranged Family
Please remember that the grieving process can look different for everyone. It might be hard for the people around you to grasp and understand how you feel but that doesn’t give them the right to tell you how to feel. Your feelings are valid and you don’t need to explain yourself unless you want to. You know yourself better than anyone else so, honour your feelings and do what you need to do to take care of yourself. Wishing you a peaceful and healing holiday period.
Jas Kaur (@fit.kaur)