Managing Grief During the Holidays
Posted in Bereavement
When you are grieving the loss of a loved one, winter holidays can be the toughest and most stressful to get through. When a loved one is missing from a family gathering, it can bring feelings of grief and sadness. You may also feel guilty about enjoying your time with family which can make your grief worse. It is important to remember that there are no set “rules” when it comes to grieving during the busy holiday season. Some people may suggest to you a certain way to celebrate, but there is no right or wrong way to spend the holidays when you are grieving. You may want to spend the holidays eating out instead of cooking, you may not feel like decorating, or you might even want to take a vacation. Do what is best for you. Below are some suggestions for managing grief during the holidays
Remember Your Loved One
Talk with your family about including the memory of your loved one in your holiday traditions or you may even want to honor your loved one in small ways on your own. Do what feels right for you and your family. Here are some suggestions for managing grief during the holidays:
- Talk about your loved one by sharing stories or photographs. You may even create a memory box where everyone adds their own story or photograph to be shared at a planned time.
- Write about your loved one in private letters, a journal or a blog. If you use social media, consider sharing pictures and thoughts there.
- Focus on your loved ones favorite things by cooking their favorite meal, watching their favorite movie, or listening to their favorite song.
- Hold their place at the dinner table, include their picture in family portraits, or consider donating their share of food or gifts to people in need.
- Revisit old traditions and decide if you want to continue them or try something new. After a loss, some find comfort in keeping things the same, while others want to start over.
- Make new traditions by leaving flowers at your loved one’s resting place or lighting a candle in their memory. You may even make or buy new holiday decorations to remind you of your loved one.
Coping with Grief
Holidays can bring on strong feelings of grief. It may feel as though you are starting over in the grief process. It is normal to feel like you may never enjoy the holidays again, but try to be aware of the feelings that each year may bring. Look for the small enjoyments such as your favorite dessert or a hug from a child in your family. Here are some suggestions for managing grief during the holidays:
- Lean into your feelings instead of pushing them away. Cry or be angry even if you haven’t in a long time. It’s also okay to laugh and be joyful when you are grieving.
- Helping others is one of the best ways to feel better when you are grieving. Donate your time or gifts to your or your loved one’s favorite charity.
- Stay healthy by eating a balanced diet, drinking plenty of water, getting regular exercise, and sleeping enough. Try to avoid alcohol abuse, over indulging in food and other bad habits.
- Reach out for support from family or friends. Call them or request a visit from them. Also consider our grief support groups to connect with individuals just like yourself.
- Take care of your own needs. Don’t be afraid to take time for yourself after a loss. Be gentle with yourself and do something special just for you.