How To Cope With Grief During the Holidays


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Lonely women sitting on the the sofa at home during christmas

Ava Johnson

After experiencing a loss, the most difficult time of the year is usually the holidays, especially the first without your loved one. Holidays are full of traditions, family gatherings, fond memories, exciting activities, and more, all of which can make the celebration of the holidays extremely painful. Many people in the process of grief dread this time, therefore, planning ahead may be helpful in dealing with the holidays. There is not one single answer regarding how to deal with grief, however, trying out these tips may help ease some pain. Decide what your needs are and what is in your comfort zone, then communicate that with the people around you.

  1. If you’ve been avoiding or ignoring your feelings, realize the holidays are going to be hard and emotional. It is completely okay to express your feelings. Do not bottle up your emotions. A good cry is totally healthy and relieving. 
  2. Focus on only this holiday. Take it one day at a time. Don’t worry about the next holiday or next year. Whatever you do this year does not have to become a new tradition. 
  3. You may have to change some traditions, and don’t be afraid to. If you feel like you need to, spend New Year’s Eve watching some movies and toast your loved one when the clock strikes twelve. 
  4. Keep some traditions. It can be comforting to do so and can serve as a way to remember the person you lost.
  5. Get together with the people who are also grieving. They will understand your feelings and can even help you. Supporting each other is important, especially during this emotional time of year.
  6. Plan a special way to remember and acknowledge your loved one. Whether it be lighting a candle, writing a letter to them, or sharing a memory, it is much less painful than acting as if everything is completely normal. 
  7. Compromise with your other loved ones to cater to their feelings as well as your own. Find ways to remember the person and help each other.
  8. Recognize your limits. This time of year can be draining, so make sure to take care of yourself. Do not be afraid to say no. If you need time alone, take it. Treat yourself the way you’d treat others in your situation.
  9. You’re allowed to smile and laugh. You are not betraying your loved one. They would want you to be happy and enjoy this time. 
  10. Even though it seems like it will be difficult, sometimes the anticipation is harder than the actual holiday. It may not be as bad as you were expecting since you already worked through some of your anxiety.

Remember your loved one is always with you and looking over you. As time passes, you’ll grow stronger and things will get easier. Enjoy the holidays and take care of yourself!