Grieving can occur for many reasons.  It is not always that someone you love passes away.  It could be a loss of other kinds, and you have a right to still grieve if that is how you feel, no matter how big or small the event may seem to others, or even to you.  Your grief may be more than you expected given the circumstance, and that is okay.  What you feel is what you feel, and I encourage you to feel it, without harming others or yourself.

Grief can last much longer than you want or expect it to.  It may challenge what you think you can handle.  It can change you.  It can force you to change in ways you didn’t think you could, because there is something within you that says you must, quickly, in order for you to somehow move forward, or to somehow have some level of stability.

When grief is more and longer than expected, it can be a time to think about why.  Sometimes we don’t always realize how much we are bonded or tied to someone or something until it’s gone, whether that be because it left or you left.  It can be a time to analyze why you were so bonded/tied, and learn some wisdom you otherwise would not have gained until you arrived to where you are now…away from it.

The holiday season is a time where there is a dense atmosphere of love, happiness and excitement.  Events are centered around this.  Buildings are decorated with this in mind.  It can be tough to set your eyes upon, to let into your ears, to feel this energy…when what you feel inside is the opposite, or when that atmosphere triggers you to think thoughts that emotionally hurt you so much inside.  You do not need to apologize for not wanting to partake in any of these environments during a time that you are grieving.

But you may notice some emotional room to still participate on some level.  Also, sometimes you can’t avoid everything.  You can pick and choose what you will do or not do.  I avoided holiday lights and events surrounding that, many holiday festivals, and many Christmas songs.  Some songs I could handle.

I was surprised to see that I somewhat enjoyed a popular arts and crafts store.  Even though it was full of holiday decorations, it was very calm in there.  It was not stimulating, but was focused on the artistry and relaxation that could be indulged in during the holidays.

Grief can be stressful, and your nervous system may become sensitive during this time.  Certain or any loud noises, exciting things, vibrant colors, and other high energy environments may be too much for you right now.  I think this is why I could handle the arts and crafts store, because it was not that.  You may also find very calming Christmas music to be tolerable.  You may prefer dim lighting instead of bright lights.  You may prefer evenings over bright sunny days for a while.  Or you may just be okay with high energy things as long as they are not holiday related (example: regular every day songs are fine, but not holiday ones).

There are times where you may just alternate between feeling like everything holiday is okay and then pulling back altogether.  I want you to know that is okay.  You have a right to grieve.

There may be times where you are feeling stable, and then you’ll have a thought or feel an unstoppable rise of emotions and break down.  This can happen multiple times per day, every day…or maybe once every few days, depends on the person.  I noticed crying to be important for me.  Imagine you have a big cup of grief that needs to go, and your cries are that cup pouring itself out one tiny sip at a time.  I find it interesting the relief I have sometimes felt after a cry.  Then other times I’ve been in an upset mood afterwards because I was upset that I was upset enough to cry.  Grief can be a lot to repeatedly handle.

Working and hanging with friends also helped me, because sometimes relaxation can bring on more grief.  These distractions would lift me for a bit, but when they’d stop, I’d quickly drop.  I hated that rollercoaster.  It gave me anxiety and stressed me more.  At one point I decided to get off the rollercoaster and just be in a constant state of sadness for weeks.  But a concerning situation with a family member made me get back on the rollercoaster.  I had previously pushed them away due to the grief, but realized they then needed me to be present.

It is so automatic when we greet someone to ask ‘how are you doing,’ but I have been trying to say other things like:

What you have you been up to?

Good to see you.

I like your outfit, hair, etc.

Such a nice event right?

There has been one time in my life where a stranger asked me how I was doing and I saw in her eyes and heard in her tone that she really meant it, she really wanted to know, she was inviting me to say how I really felt.  I appreciated her for that so much.  But at the same time, you can opt out of just asking in the first place so that people do not feel the need to lie.

We all know that people are not on a happy 10 all the time, yet others can unfortunately subconsciously treat them in such a way that shows they have expectations for them to be so, or to be that way sooner rather than later.  Your timeline is not anyone else’s but your own.

Seeing a therapist and/or grief specialist may be needed, so please seek it out if you feel the need, or if everyone is telling you that you may need it (I had to state the latter for those who have been trained against therapy being worth obtaining).  Although your timeline is yours alone, sometimes we get stuck and could use some support.  Support can be a wonderful thing to have access to and obtain.  At first, I wanted to run away from something, but when I realized what I wanted to run away from was sadness, I decided to fall into it.  It was only through my naturopathic training, self-help books and therapy that I was able to identify this thing as sadness and decide to fall into it.  Again, overtime I have a done a mix of feeling and distraction.  In other words, I went at a pace I felt I could handle, particularly given various other life demands.

Another thing that surprisingly helped me is those things on our phones that like to highlight through photos what we have been doing all year.  Grief can make you feel like everyday is a task, that not much has changed in months, and that whatever you do during the time is insignificantly dull.  But those phone films helped me to see other things I still did or experienced during all that time in a better light, and helped me to see ability and strength that I didn’t realize I had and was using at the time.

It can be lonely to go through grief, especially when what you went through is unique to you.  I hope you find what you need.