When you’re grieving a significant loss, it isn’t just the holidays you might dread. Other momentous days like a birthday, anniversary, or death date can cause anxiety.
Especially the “firsts” – the first time you face a special day without your loved one.
In fact, the “Fragile Grief” phase can be the most fearful state.
You’re most vulnerable after surviving the initial tsunami of grief. You likely feel a little on edge. Never knowing when something can trigger a memory and cause waves of tears and sorrow.
And what do we tend to do when afraid?
Fight, flight, freeze, or fawn. We fawn when we avoid situations that might bring pain. That’s why you may feel like avoiding the holidays. You fear the pain of memories. Hanging stockings and ornaments. Lighting the menorah. Putting up the lights.
So, if you’re staring at your calendar with a red-letter day looming ahead, take heart. Circle it!
YES!! In RED.
Recognize that you probably will have moments of pain on those days. After all, they’re filled with poignant memories. Acknowledge the possibility of tears. And give yourself permission to feel it.
Name the emotion. Say it out loud. “I feel______[sad, lonely, regretful…]. Identifying and naming your emotion triggers the prefrontal cortex, which helps with self-regulation. The decision-making part of your brain will present choices – putting you in control. Not your emotions.
Most importantly, plan ahead for those red-letter days and schedule time for self-care. Get plenty of rest. Perhaps a massage is needed. Or invite a friend for a walk and talk. Doing something physical always regulates our thoughts and emotions.
Last, realign by celebrating. Not the death, but the life of one you loved. You can rejoice and be thankful for the person they were. The unique life they expressed. The experiences you shared.
Perhaps you could join with others in a Life Celebration event. Or write a love note to your beloved, thanking them or God for the blessing they were. Gratitude and thanksgiving release you to connect with the Well-being within.
So, are you in Fragile Grief state this holiday?
Do you have any red-letter days coming up? If you’re wondering how you’ll face the days ahead, think about the ideas above. Does anything resonate with you?
And remember, you’re not alone.
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