Navigating Grief and Difficult Emotions During the Holidays

Today we are thrilled to share a post from another one of our therapists, Patricia McGuire. Patricia specializes in guiding clients through life’s unexpected challenges within a safe, empathic environment. Her collaborative and narrative-driven approach focuses on exploring emotions, thoughts, and experiences to unearth clients’ strengths and foster insight. Valuing each individual’s journey, she provides an open, respectful space for self-expression and understanding. Practicing from a Health At Every Size (HAES) model, Patricia works with adolescents and adults across various concerns, including anxiety, depression, eating disorders, identity and self-awareness, body image, trauma, spirituality, grief, and women’s issues, upholding the belief in the enduring presence of hope.

From Patricia: 

With the holidays quickly approaching, there are many things we may look forward to; like time with loved ones, gift-giving, delicious food, and cultural/family traditions. This season can stir a lot of emotions for us – joy and happiness, but also sadness and grief.

Emotions are messengers that show up to give us information about our experience. For example, anger may show up to let us know our boundaries have been pushed or someone has hurt us. Many of us may believe we should feel happy, joyful, and energized this time of year, but this is just often not the case. It’s common to feel many emotions, including grief, sadness, and depression. All of these emotions are valid. We can imagine each of our emotions as a guest at our holiday table. Some of them were invited, and some of them were not.

Grief is a complex emotion that many of us experience this time of year – grief for those who have died, grief for things that didn’t go as planned, and grief for other complex losses. We may feel tempted to avoid grief and other difficult emotions, but that may only intensify the emotion. Bringing compassionate awareness to each of our emotions can help us navigate them with more ease.

A helpful practice for engaging emotional awareness is called the Rain Method, which was originally developed by mindfulness teacher Tara Brach. The Rain Method is designed to help us respond to our emotions with compassion and curiosity:

Recognize – label the emotion you feel (happy, sad, angry) without judgment or resistance

Allow – allow the emotion to be present without trying to change it. Think about it like a guest at your holiday table.

Investigate – explore your emotion with nonjudgment and curiosity. You can ask yourself “What sensations do I notice in my body?” and “What thoughts are connected to this feeling?” and “Did something specific activate this emotion?”

Nourish/Nurture – be kind and compassionate to yourself as you feel your emotion. You can say, or “This emotion is letting me know something about my experience.” 

This practice can help us move with more ease through all the complexities of our emotions. This holiday season, let’s welcome all of our emotions to have a seat at the table. Maybe joy will pull up a chair too.

Affirmation of the Day:  “All emotions are welcome.”

We hope you found Patricia’s reflections on navigating grief during the holidays valuable. If her message resonated with you, this could be the perfect time to take meaningful steps toward your healing and peace. To initiate your work with Patricia, please feel free to call our office at 615.510.3797 or click here to learn more.

Anchored Counseling Company is a a group practice specializing in the treatment of anxiety, depression, body image concerns, eating disorders & disordered eating, substance use, trauma and PTSD, and spirituality in Brentwood, Tennessee and serving the greater Nashville, Tennessee area. We are easily accessible for clients living in Franklin, Tennessee and Spring Hill, Tennessee. 

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