Read below my new article published in Brainz Magazine. 
Let’s talk about grief, the festive season, and about the most empowering strategies to navigate this season with grace and to navigate the rocky terrain of grief during this very special time of year. 
“Grief never ends…but it changes. It's a passage, not a place to stay. Grief is not a sign of weakness, nor a lack of faith. It is the price of love.” 
Author Unknown 
Personally, I just love this time of year, the buzz in the air, the twinkling of lights wherever we go, the whole lot really. It really is such a magical time of year. But to be honest, I know that it can also be an overwhelming and challenging time during which we can feel lonely and misunderstood especially if we are in grief and a time during which we can easily put ourselves last. 
With so much going on and so many demands on our time and attention, and with the festive season being a time of high expectations and even higher emotions, it is no surprise that many of us experiencing grief find the festive period to be a tough time. 
It is not unusual at all for people in grief to feel overwhelmed by the festivities. 
Many things that are part of our routines that we take for granted become disrupted by the change of pace in our lives during this time of year. 
So, whilst Christmas can be a magical time for many, it can also be a really stressful time for many others. 
The festive season is often a time when people get together with family and friends, so if you have lost someone you love, this time can be a pretty stark reminder of that. While everyone reacts differently, a lot of people find this time difficult. 
This may have been a time you usually spent with the person you have lost, so it is completely normal to feel sad that they are no longer with you. You may react more sensitively to things or feel detached from those around you. 
The festive season can really trigger grief in many of us. 
And that is perfectly okay. Just remember that Christmas and the festive season can be difficult for anyone, at any point in their life and even more if you are grieving. 
You might be struggling this year for the first time. Or you may have found Christmas difficult in the past, and you are dreading it again this year. 
You may also enjoy Christmas, but not be able to celebrate it how you would like. Or you might find some parts enjoyable, but other parts stressful, overwhelming, or sad as your loved one will not be with you. 
Whether or not Christmas is part of your life, your mental health might be affected by it happening around you. 
It is a time of year that often puts extra pressure on people experiencing grief and it is crucial to put yourself first and treat yourself as a real priority. 
The holiday season, a time traditionally associated with joy and celebration, can be an intricate maze for those navigating the depths of grief. For many, this time of year intensifies the longing for loved ones no longer present, amplifying feelings of emptiness and sorrow. The festive season can feel like an emotional battlefield for those grappling with grief. 
The holiday cheer around us can starkly contrast with the deep ache of missing a loved one. If you're amidst this struggle, know that you're not alone. Coping with grief during the festive season can feel like an insurmountable challenge, yet amidst the pain, there exists an opportunity for healing and reconnection. 
What is grief? 
In simplest terms, grief is a reaction to loss. The loss of a loved one through death, but also the end of a marriage or relationship, the end of a career that meant the world to you… 
Grief is a natural human response to a loss. It can show itself in many ways. Grief moves in and out of different stages from disbelief and denial to anger and guilt, to finding a source of comfort, to eventually adjusting to the loss as well as possible. 
For survivors, the grieving process can take a long time, often many years. The challenge of accepting death and dying as the end stage of life is what the grieving process is all about. 
If you love, you will grieve, and nothing is more mysteriously central to becoming fully human. 
Grief, an emotional labyrinth shaped by death, dying, pain, and loss, embodies the ache of time's passage. It is a universal language of the heart, impacting existence profoundly. Its tendrils entwine around memories, tugging at the fabric of our being. Grief is not solely sorrow; it is the echo of love's endurance, a testament to our connections. Its weight shapes our days, shifting the landscape of our emotions. Empowering amidst vulnerability, it demands acknowledgement, embracing the rawness of our humanity. 
Understanding grief during the festive season 
Grief knows no calendar. It does not adhere to schedules or pause during celebrations. Acknowledging this truth is the first step towards embracing the complexities of grief during the festive season. The holiday season, adorned with glittering lights and joyous tunes, can feel like a piercing reminder of loss for those grieving the absence of loved ones. In the midst of this celebration, healing from grief becomes a challenging journey. Yet, there is resilience within you waiting to bloom. 
15 empowering strategies to navigate this season with grace: 
1- Embrace your emotions 
Accepting the reality of loss is pivotal. Allow yourself to acknowledge the pain without judgment. It is okay to feel a range of emotions during this time. Permit yourself to feel the sadness, anger, or emptiness. Recognize these emotions as part of the healing process. 
2- Create new traditions 
Changing Traditions: The holiday season often revolves around cherished traditions. However, it is absolutely alright to adapt or create new customs or rituals which honour the memory of your loved ones while accommodating your emotional needs. Light a candle, write a letter, or cook their favourite meal. 
3- Practice self-compassion 
Self-Compassion: Be kind to yourself. Grieving during a time of celebration can be emotionally draining. Give yourself permission to say no to activities that might overwhelm you. Practice mindfulness and implement self-care rituals: Engage in activities that bring solace. 
It could be journaling, meditation, or simply taking a quiet walk, or whatever makes you feel as good as possible during this challenging time. These practices can help ground you in the present moment. 
4- Lean on support networks 
Surround yourself with a support system that understands and respects your grief. Seek comfort from friends, family, support groups, or therapists who understand and support your journey. Whether it is family, friends, a therapist or support groups, having people who empathize can make a significant difference. Remember to reach out. Do not isolate yourself! 
5- Set boundaries 
Prioritize yourself: Learn to decline invitations or commitments that might overwhelm you. It is absolutely fine and essential to take time for yourself. 
6- Honor your loved one 
Memorialize them: Dedicate a space or create a memorial to commemorate your loved one during the holiday season. Celebrate the life of your loved ones by dedicating a special moment or activity in their honour. Light a candle, create a memory board, or cook their favourite meal. 
7- Express gratitude 
Focus on blessings: Emphasize moments of gratitude for the time you shared with your loved one. Reflect on the positive impact they had on your life. 
8- Seek professional help 
Therapeutic Guidance: Consider seeking therapy, counselling or grief education and support programmes to navigate complex emotions and grief-related challenges. 
9- Give back 
Give back: Helping others can provide a sense of purpose and fulfilment. Volunteer or donate in honour of your loved one. Consider volunteering or donating to a cause that was close to your loved one's heart. Helping others in need can be a powerful way to honour their legacy. 
10- Be mindful of triggers 
Identify triggers: Be aware of situations or places that intensify your grief. Prepare strategies to cope when faced with such triggers. 
11- Take it one day at a time 
Practice patience: Allow yourself the time needed to heal. Healing from grief is a gradual process. Your grief is unique and personal and there is no timeline in grief! 
12- Create a supportive environment 
Communicate your needs: Openly communicate your feelings and needs to those around you. Express what would be helpful during this time. Express your needs and boundaries during this sensitive time. Honest conversations can foster understanding and support. 
13- Focus on meaningful connections 
Quality over quantity: Concentrate on deep, meaningful connections rather than spreading yourself thin socially. 
14- Embrace hope 
Believe in healing: Understand that grief does not disappear but evolves. Embrace hope that you will find moments of peace amidst the pain. 
15- Embody self-compassion 
Be Kind to yourself: Understand that grieving during festivities is challenging. Allow yourself grace and kindness. This journey through grief during the festive season is unique for everyone. Remember, it is okay to feel a mix of emotions, and healing takes time. As you navigate this period, know that your loved one’s memory lives on through your cherished moments together. Take each day as it comes, embracing the love and memories that keep your cherished ones alive within you. May this festive season bring you moments of peace and comfort amidst the pain of loss. 
Final words… 
Remember, grief is a testament to the love shared and the impact your loved ones had on your life. Embracing the healing process does not mean forgetting but rather finding a way to carry their memory forward while nurturing your own well-being. 
Navigating grief during the festive season is undoubtedly challenging, but it also presents an opportunity for profound growth and resilience. By acknowledging your emotions, seeking support, and honouring your loved ones in meaningful ways, you can pave the path towards healing and find moments of peace and joy amidst the sorrow. 
May this season be a reminder of the love that transcends time and space, guiding you towards a journey of healing and renewed strength. 
To my readers and clients, your grief is valid, heard, and witnessed; within this shared journey, empathy, motivation, and compassion illuminate the path toward healing. 
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