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.
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.