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  • Matthew Frank
    Matthew Frank

    Coping with Heartbreak Before the Holidays

    It's the most wonderful time of the year and you have no one to share it with. You had expected to be snuggled up together in front of a cheery fire, sipping hot cocoa and watching festive holiday movies, but instead he's left suddenly right before Christmas. At this time when you should be celebrating with loved ones, you're trying to process your grief and navigate the pre-Christmas rituals alone. In the face of this untimely loss, it can be challenging to find ways to cope during the lonely last days of the year.

    Starting with the basics, make sure to get adequate rest, drink lots of water, and maintain a healthy diet – even if all you want to do is curl up in bed and avoid the world. A healthy body will help you to be prepared for dealing with overwhelming emotions, particularly if you've been crying a lot. Schedule rest breaks, hot baths, and other calming activities throughout your day so that you can ease some tension and bring a sense of comfort to your routine. Be gentle and compassionate with yourself, allowing space for as many emotions as come up. There's no rush to “get over” your sadness; instead, give yourself all the time needed to move through the rawness of your pain.

    Often times people assume that the holidays are just about having fun, that's definitely not true. Holidays demand a lot of us, both emotionally and physically, and these types of losses, being so sudden and unexpected, can strain an already stressful environment. Reexamine what the holidays mean to you and question the tradition of favoring joy over “negative” emotions such as grief. Acknowledge the sadness and loneliness that come with this ending and ask yourself: What would help me find some peace and acceptance right now? This might mean adjusting or even bypassing some holiday plans. Do what works best with your inner needs and go at your own pace.

    Moreover, reach out to friends, family members, and other people who can provide solace and support. Forums and online support groups are great resources to explore and check out too — not only can you find comfort in the company of people who have gone through the same struggles, but also gain wisdom from their stories. Writing can be therapeutic, too; give yourself room to express your feelings without pressure or judgements. Jot down a stream of thoughts and emotions, create a collage with pictures that mean something to you, mind-map memories and map out the journey of your grief. These creative ways to honor your distress can provide a meaningful outlet to move through the experience.

    Remember this, too; what you’re going through has nothing to do with the season itself. Focus your energy on finding grace in the now and fill your days with self-care activities. Offer yourself kindness and breathe through your empty moments — allowing them to exist and trusting that there can be beauty in the mourning of this merry pre-Christmas loss.

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