Grief and the Holidays

If you have lost a loved one, the holiday season can be an especially challenging time of year. While others are experiencing extra joy and excitement, your feelings of sorrow and loneliness might seem magnified. However, there are a few strategies that can help make the holidays a bit more manageable.

Allow Yourself to Feel

Trying to ignore or escape your feelings, even with good intentions of not wanting to put a damper on the holiday cheer, will only extend the grieving process. It is important to verbalize those feelings and talk with others about how you are doing. But there are many other forms of expression that will provide an outlet for the swelling emotions this time of year as well. Maybe you find peace when taking a quiet walk in the forest after a snowfall. Maybe writing about your favorite Christmas memories with your loved one makes you smile. Maybe attending a holiday concert with others who are in the same situation helps you feel less isolated. Find what fits for you.

Take Care of Yourself

We know that grief can take a huge toll on a person—mentally, emotionally, and physically—and the holidays can be taxing even without the added pain of life without your loved one. Be sure you are setting aside extra time this season to focus on your own well-being. Take more breaks and be realistic about your expectations. Participating in the festivities might help create a sense of comfort and hope, but give yourself permission to sit out from a few holiday traditions or celebrations if you feel they will be overwhelming.

Find Ways to Honor Your Loved One

For some, finding ways to include the memory of a loved one in holiday activities makes the experience less sorrowful. Whether it’s listening to their favorite Christmas song or baking the kind of cookies you always made together, those reminders of your loved one might make their presence feel more tangible. You could consider starting a new tradition in their honor, giving you something new to look forward to for the years to come. Seeking out an opportunity to give back to others this time of year is also a very special way to pay tribute to your loved one.

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