For families in El Cerrito, Oakland, Berkeley, and Richmond who have lost a loved one recently, we know the holidays are going to look and feel different – especially in light of COVID-19. Our caring team at Sunset View Cemetery and Mortuary see this every day, as we meet with our neighbors to plan funerals and burials. This time of year comes with its own set of expectations. We anticipate the joy and festivities for 11 months. We look forward to seeing loved ones, reconnecting with old friends, and enjoying beloved traditions. But after losing someone special, everything changes. We have advice to share on practical ways to take care of yourself during a difficult time.
Set aside time for yourself. While some people will find themselves alone this Christmas, others will be with family – and may need time away to take a breather. Holiday gatherings are overwhelming, no matter the size, and taking a timeout is healthy. Meditate, take a bath, read a book by the fire, or do your favorite activity that helps you relax and recharge.
Talk to someone. Just as making time for yourself is important, talking through your feelings with someone is helpful as well. This time of the year is especially tough if you’ve recently suffered a loss, and it’s the perfect opportunity to start talking about it if you’ve been putting it off. This could be a close friend, a spiritual leader, a guidance counselor at school, or a professional. If you need help, you can also reference our online library grief resources.
It’s OK to feel whatever you’re feeling. Don’t blame yourself if you are feeling a bit down one day and happy the next. The holidays send us on emotional roller coasters, and there should be no guilt associated with your feelings. The best practice is to let yourself feel them. Don’t push them aside or ignore them – they’ll come back eventually and will be even harder to process.
Talk freely about your loss. If reminiscing about great memories with your loved one helps you process the loss, don’t let anyone stop you. If you feel hesitant doing this because you don’t want negative or upsetting emotions to arise in other family members, remember its part of the healing process. They might even be thinking the same thing! Talk about your loved one whenever you want.
Set clear expectations. This might be even more difficult this year due to COVID-19, and everyone’s plans are off kilter. If you simply aren’t in the mood for tree decorating, cooking a big family dinner, or wrapping presents, that’s okay. Be sure to set this expectation early enough to let everyone adjust. Instead, watch movies, order takeout, and share cherished memories of your loved one. You’ll get back to traditions when you’re ready and on your own terms.
Remember everyone grieves differently. Some people don’t show their grief, and they keep it to themselves. Others are emotional and find it difficult to keep their composure. Either way, it doesn’t mean someone isn’t grieving just because you aren’t physically seeing it. Be kind and keep this is mind as you heal.
Be patient. It’s extremely important to be patient with yourself and with those grieving around you. Grief is often unpredictable, and it’s easy to become aggravated and wonder when they’ll “get over it.” Friends and family members are grieving a loss as well, and it’s critical to remain patient as they process their feelings in their own ways.
Write down how you’re feeling. If you’re having a particularly bad day, jot down your thoughts, as this can help you feel lighter. Your feelings become a bit clearer and easier to process once you see them written down.
This holiday season, find the good you’re surrounded by and don’t feel guilty about experiencing a wide range of emotions Know that our staff at Sunset View Cemetery and Mortuary is always here for all our neighbors in Pinole, El Sobrante, Kensington, Piedmont, and Albany. Don’t hesitate to reach out anytime.