HANDLING THE HOLIDAYS WHEN
YOU'RE FEELING BLUE
|"Happy Holidays!" is a greeting we hear often
at this time of year - but if you're grieving the loss of your pet, the
holiday season may be anything but happy for you.
Holidays can create feelings of dread and anxiety in those who are bereaved. The clichéd images of family togetherness and the often unrealistic expectations of a season filled with picture-perfect, joyful gatherings can cause tremendous stress for those who are not grieving - let alone for those in the midst of the painful, isolating experience of loss.
How does one celebrate the holidays when a loved one is so sorely missed? Creating new rituals and new traditions that may pay tribute to the memory of the deceased is one way to survive, and perhaps even embrace, the holidays when a loved one has died.
Here are some suggestions of what you can do:
Then once you've remembered your cherished pet, make sure you remember yourself. Take care of yourself. Be aware that, when you're overly tired or under excessive stress, you're especially vulnerable to accidents and illness. Get enough sleep, nourishment and regular exercise. Avoid excessive amounts of caffeine (a stimulant) or alcohol (a depressant). Build relaxation time into your schedule. Try shopping when stores are less crowded and you're not feeling rushed. Listen to your favorite music or treat yourself to a special meal or relaxing bath. Seek out an understanding family member or trusted friend with whom you can talk and be yourself. Reach out to others in need of caring and sharing, perhaps by attending a pet loss support group meeting. Be gentle. Do what you can - no more and no less.
If it's too hard to be in the same place where you spent holidays together with your pet, opt for a change of scene and go somewhere new. If you can't afford a vacation, go to a restaurant - or a friend or family member's home that doesn't have painful associations with previous holidays. Although you can't erase thoughts and memories of your lost pet, it may help to create a new holiday experience.
See also: Coping with Holidays