The holidays are the most wonderful time of the year.
Students are finally free from classes. Parents are frantically buying gifts for their children. Friends are making plans to hit Winter Wonderland. Couples are drowning our news feeds with their cute pictures and couples presents they opened on Christmas.
And where are you?
You might be somewhere deep in your thoughts, your eyes firmly shut as you wish for it all to subside. You hope for the holiday happiness and cheer to disappear and to give you a moment of ease while you attempt to process the sudden loss of a loved one.
Despite the sheer excitement we have when holiday advertisements are all over the TV, it doesn't stop grief or loss from changing our mental state.
Staying holed up inside can seriously worsen your mental state.
And bereavement around the holidays can create some distance between you and your friends, as you want to hide away from life outside your house.
So rather than becoming a complete recluse, here are four tips to keep your head above the water if you're grieving a loved one during the holiday season:
1. Don't be a complete recluse.
Step out of your room, go for walk, feed the ducks in the park or just take a short walk every day. Step by step, you'll begin to feel a little better.
Staying holed up inside can seriously worsen your mental state, whereas going for a little exercise and some fresh air will help you realize that, although your world may feel like it's falling apart, you are stronger than you think.
2. Enjoy the family side of the holidays.
Death can really disrupt a family, and everyone deals with grief in different ways. Regardless, you all have to support each other. So focusing on making everyone feel connected and loved should be a top priority over the holidays.
Forget about how many presents your friends got or who's missing from the table this year, and appreciate celebrating with the people you love. Sit down, reconnect and enjoy each other's company because you don't know what might happen tomorrow.
3. Let friends in who are trying to help.
Although you are going through an extremely difficult time, that doesn't prevent your friends from enjoying their holidays. You may not feel strong enough to go out, but you can't push away your friends who are just trying to have a good time.
Even though seeing all of your friends so happy all over social media can make grieving even harder, that doesn't mean your friends aren't there for you.
Bereavement can put a strain on friendships. It's hard to know what to say or when to say it.
Sure, bereavement can put a strain on friendships. It's hard to know what to say or when to say it. But let your friends in on your thoughts and feelings. Don't punish them for enjoying their time when you're feeling deflated.
Odds are, they still want to be there for you in every way, but they can't do that if you push them away.
4. Don't think about moving forward until you are absolutely ready.
With the New Year drawing closer, the pressure to be someone new or better than who you are now is high.
And while this can be a great time to start thinking about the future and about moving on, it can also pressure you to move forward when you're not ready.
Time really does heal wounds.
As cliche as it sounds, time really does heal wounds, and although you may never be the same or you still cry over your loved one, tomorrow is another day. You have survived one of the hardest moments of your life so far.
Getting on with your life while mourning a loved one is taxing. You may constantly feel guilty when you start feeling better, laughing or enjoying life without the person you lost.
But no one you love would ever want you to live unhappily.