How to Use the Holiday Season to Strengthen Your Relationships and Honor your Grief and Loved Ones
Updated: Dec 22, 2022
The holiday season can be a big source of stress when it comes to relationships, especially with family and if you are in grief.
If you’ve ever had a big fallout at this time of year, you’ll know how quickly things can escalate when stress rises, and frustrations boil over.
But it’s not all bad news as the holidays can also be a great opportunity to build deeper and more meaningful connections with family and friends.
Here are some tips to help you to do that!
Reminisce about good times.
If the holidays are one of the few times that you get to see certain people, it can be hard to find time to strengthen your relationship before you part company again. One of the ways that you can build a deeper bond involves reminiscing about the good times you’ve shared together. This is a tip that can work equally well with your partner and anyone else you want to feel more connected to. Taking a walk down memory lane can help you both to focus in on the things that have made your bond stronger. For friends, that may involve thinking about the times you’ve supported each other or the fun things you’ve done together. For couples, positive reminiscence has been shown to improve intimacy and communication.
Communication is key.
There’s always a fun and celebratory element to the holidays but there’s also a lot of stress attached to this time of year. This can mean that people hide their emotions and don’t let on how they’re really feeling. Check in with people over the holidays and make a point of talking about how you’re both feeling. They’ll be super appreciative that you care and if they are struggling, taking the time to listen and support is a simple but really effective way to strengthen your relationship. Strong family relationships and friendships have great communication and listen to each other.
This one might seem simple but if you’ve got a busy festive season lined up, spending quality time together at the dinner table can be low down on the priority list. And that’s a missed opportunity to add a bit more depth to your relationships over the holidays. When you do get chance to sit down and eat with family and friends, it’s super important to make sure it’s quality time with no distractions. This can be easier said than done over the holidays but it can really help your relationships if you can be totally present in conversations and mealtimes over the holidays - especially with anyone you don’t see on a regular basis. If you don’t normally commit to sitting down for meaningful, quality mealtimes, make it more of a priority during the holidays and use it as a chance to build deeper bonds...unless you are taking memorable pix...put your phone away.
Offer a Helping Hand.
The holidays can be very stressful especially for those who are tasked with organizing holiday events. If it’s not going to stretch you too thin, offer to lend a hand with holiday meals or babysitting. Frustration and resentment can quickly cause emotions to boil over during the holidays but helping out can take some of the pressure off them and reduce potential for tension to cause issues. Being aware of what they’re juggling and stepping in to support them is a great way to let people know that you care for them. This can have some underrated benefits for your self-care too as thinking of others and doing good deeds for them is linked to better self-esteem and mental health.
Embrace the Holidays.
Getting into the holiday spirit can help to bring you closer together with friends, partners and family. Whether this involves creating some healthy festive foods and drinks (which little ones will love to get involved in) or embracing family traditions that have previously gone by the wayside, look on the holidays as a perfect opportunity to have fun and take part in activities that will help you to bond more with the people around you.
When was the last time you showed the people around you how much you appreciate them? If you can’t remember, the holiday season can be a great time to put this right. Offer compliments and show gratitude (where appropriate) to help them to feel better about themselves. It can help to really focus on the little things that people do for you and use them as your basis to show your appreciation.
If you are in Grief…Remember that the holidays can be very difficult especially in early grief – the first two years.
First, there is the social pressure to have an amazing holiday…you may feel unable to participate. And, that is ok!
You can absolutely not have a holiday. Give yourself permission to cancel.
If you feel like you want to participate…do the best you can.
Try to feel the love and support of others or realize that others may not be able to offer what you need. They may not ‘get’ your pain.
Holidays do not have to perfect.
The word NO is a complete sentence.
If you attend a gathering…have an exit strategy.
Do things that are interesting and feel right for you.
Flexibility is key…you have had so much change and grief needs dedicated time.
Go for a walk.
Visit the gravesite.
Light a candle for your loved one.
Directly ask people for support or help. Some people just don’t know what you may be feeling nor how to help.
You are the expert of your grief.
Maybe start a new tradition.
Stay in your lane.
Cook your or your loved one’s favorite meal.
Listen to music.
Write a letter to your loved one.
It is ok to say your loved one’s name.
What is not missing this year is your love.
Community is so important…if you are up for it…support can help you move forward even just a few steps at a time.
We find our healing in others too.
Sending you all peace and happiness!