ABH Maryland

Handling Holiday Grief for the First Time


Handling Holiday Grief for the First Time

  • Mental Health

The end-of-year holidays—Thanksgiving, Kwanza, Chanukah, Ramadan, Christmas, New Year’s Eve, and others—can be the most challenging time for those dealing with grief.

If you are experiencing grief for the first time this year, you may just want to cancel the entire holiday season and ride it out until January. But you’re not going to do that! 

You deserve to enjoy the goodwill and cheer along with everybody else. With some sensible coping skills and new traditions, you can find a way to make things easier for yourself and grieve in a healthy, healing way.     

6 Tips for Coping with Grief During the Holiday Season

The first holiday season after the passing of a loved one can be the most difficult, as traditions and holiday memories can bring up painful reminders of loss. Keep these tips in mind: 

Feel your feelings. The holidays are emotionally demanding, and it is natural to feel intensified feelings of grief at this time. 

You may struggle. You may cry. You may not be able to tolerate hearing that Christmas jingle on the TV commercial one…more…time! 

Remind yourself that all of these emotions are common. If you try to repress them or put a fake veneer over them, you’ll only do more damage and exhaust yourself.

Don’t judge your emotions. This rule is good at any time of year, but it is especially good to remember at the holidays, and essential after losing a loved one. 

You deserve happiness and laughter to go along with all the grief you have experienced. Sometimes, people in the various stages of grief feel guilt for actually enjoying themselves, as it makes them feel that they have forgotten the person who has passed. Don’t feel guilty about loving your life. 

Take it slow. You don’t have to do it all. Set realistic goals for what you will get done and schedule plenty of time for yourself.  

Find your people. The holidays are for spending time with the people who love and support you. Sometimes, this is your family; sometimes, it isn’t. Protect your time and spend it with the people you cherish.

Give an honor gift.  Share the love you have for your lost one by donating to a food bank in the name of your loved one. Or, you could support a special cause that had a special meaning to them. Involve children, who are also grieving, in this process. 

Consult a grief counselor. Ultimately, if your grief is still overwhelming you, it is time to seek professional help. A grief counselor will be able to give you the therapeutic support that you need.  

Ideas for the Holidays

It’s not enough for you to tolerate the holidays—you can also draw comfort from them. Here are some ways to enjoy yourself during your first year experiencing grief during the holidays.

Carry on some old traditions; say goodbye to others. You may find that some holiday activities remind you of the good times you felt with your loved one, while others may be terribly painful. It is okay to let go of traditions that no longer serve you while holding close to those who bring you joy.

Create new traditions just for you. There are endless creative and meaningful ways to begin a new tradition in the memory of a lost one during this time of year. Ask friends and family members—including children—to take part in the healing process by:

  • Lighting a holiday candle in their honor.
  • Creating an ornament to remember them.
  • Sharing a favorite memory of them at a holiday meal.
  • Playing their favorite music during a celebration.
  • Keeping a favorite item of theirs nearby as a reminder of their love.

Contact Us

The qualified team of therapists at Advanced Behavioral Health understands that grieving is a long and difficult process and that the holidays can be the hardest time of the year for those who have experienced loss. 

If you are struggling with grief and seeking support going into the holiday season, don’t wait. Schedule a consultation with a member of our team today.  

You can call us at 301-345-1022. One of our team members will help you find the care you need.

When you think of the well-being of a child, you first think of basic needs: food, water, and shelter. Once these needs are met, however, it’s crucial for a child to have emotional and social wellness as well. In this article, we will explore the impact social wellness has on the overall health of a child and great ways for children to garner social support in their lives.

It comes as no surprise that as human beings, we all need connection with others, no matter what stage of life we are in. In fact, having social support is a social determinant of health (SDOH) that significantly impacts the health of an individual. After spending the last few years in and out of isolation due to the Covid-19 outbreak, social support is more important now than ever before. Having social support means having family members and friends you can talk to and seek advice from when life feels challenging and overwhelming. Knowing you’re not alone in your life journey, especially as a child, creates a sense of belonging and empowerment throughout one’s life.

4 Types of Social Support

Emotional Support. This type of support lets you know that people care about you and have empathy for your experiences. Emotional support often looks like people checking in on you to let you know they’re thinking of you, and that they are there if you need anything. As a parent, make sure your child knows you can be a sounding board for them. If you have family members who can also show up for your children in this way, even better!

Practical Help. This type of support is when people give you something tangible or offer a service to help you out. This could be in the form of money, making food when you are sick, or helping to pack when moving. Having family and friends show up in this way shows your child what it looks like to be present for people you love.

Sharing Points of View. This type of support can often come in the form of affirmations and encouragement. For example, pointing out your child’s strengths to them and reminding them they can do anything they put their mind to. It can also look like sharing another perspective if they are being hard on themselves. For example, if they are angry with themselves after receiving a bad grade on a test, you can help them see it as a learning experience and a way for them to grow.

Sharing Information. This type of support is when someone shares what they’ve learned from their own life experiences. For example, if another parent has a child who struggles with socializing, they can share some tips and tricks they’ve learned to help their child find and create social support.

The Importance of Social Groups and Extended Support

Children who are connected to their family, friends, and people in their community have opportunities to learn how to speak, share, and get along with others. When your child feels connected to people in your neighborhood, it often allows them to feel physically safe which can alleviate stress and worry. Simply riding bikes, going on walks, and saying hello to neighbors with your kids can create this sense of security for them.

In addition to engaging with your neighbors, getting involved in local organizations can also create social support for your child. Signing up for a sports team, musical theater, art class or summer camp are all great ways to help your child meet new friends and learn important social skills that can carry them through their lives.

Tips for Helping Kids Make Community Connections:

Spend time outside in your neighborhood playing on the playground, going to a local farmer’s market, or scheduling a playdate with neighborhood kids.

Show your kids that connection is a two-way street. If your neighbors or friends go out of town, offer to get their mail, or water their plants and take your child with you when you go. This will show your child how you show up for people you care about.

Make sure you make time for socializing with friends as well. Your child looks to you first and foremost for how they should act and live their own life.

Encourage your child to step out of their comfort zone and do something they may be scared to do. As a parent, it’s your job to push them into something social for their own well-being at times.