Gifts have been opened, family gatherings are over, decorations are down—and so are you. Does this sound familiar? For many, there is a letdown after the holidays. And for those experiencing the recent loss of a loved one, post-holiday blues can be doubly hard. Chris W.* expressed concern about her friend whose husband died in 2009. "Today is really a new start for her. Up until this point she's been surrounded by family. How can I help as reality sets in?"
At Krause Funeral Homes we have spent 75 years helping families who have lost a loved one. Here are some ideas on how to help a grieving friend, family member or anyone experiencing post-holiday blues.
Suggest a Getaway
Whether it's across the country or across town, planning an outing puts something to look forward to on the calendar.
Many people find spiritual renewal through worship or meditation. Setting aside time for reflection may be just the help your friend or family member is looking for.
Get the Blood Flowing
Exercise is a proven mood elevator. Does your friend or loved one have a favorite sport you could play together? Is there a class through the YMCA or community organization he or she might enjoy? How about bowling or hitting some golf balls at an indoor dome? Or suggest the two of you take a walk through a favorite park, museum or mall.
Do Something For Someone Else
Using your skills to serve a noble purpose creates happiness according to Martin Seligman, one of the leading researchers in positive psychology and author of Authentic Happiness. Locating a volunteer opportunity you can do together might be the perfect spirit lifter. Or offer to help gather and donate items that are no longer used. It might feel great to de-clutter and give away the items that were replaced by recent gifts.
Whether it is one of the above suggestions or a quick "I'm thinking about you" note, keeping in touch can be extremely helpful to someone experiencing a loss.
If it is you who is feeling a bit sad after the holidays, here are some additional ideas on what others have found helpful.
Escape with a good book. List a few of your favorites to your local librarian and ask for suggestions. Or look up your favorite books on a website like amazon.com and scroll down to see “Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought” for ideas.
Thank those who visited over the holidays or reconnect with old friends (websites like facebook.com may help). Or document your family history to share at a future holiday.
Get involved with an organization, hobby or job you believe in. Studies show that people who are communally involved experience positive emotions more frequently.
Find some new upbeat music or something funny to watch or listen to. Not only will laughter help improve your mood, but your own situation might not seem so bad.
Establish a routine and start planning future holidays and new traditions.
To learn more about what the experts say about grief, Nichole Schwerman, Bereavement Coordinator at Children's Hospital of Wisconsin, has put together a list of recommended books here.