Written by Courtney Gillis Palmer, LISW

Coping with holiday grief

The holidays can be a stressful time for all of us, but they can be particularly difficult for those who have lost a loved one.

Family gatherings and seasonal events can be difficult reminders of the absence of a loved one; however, they can also be a source of comfort when we gather with family and friends focusing on good memories.  If you are grieving the loss of a loved one this holiday season, here are a few reminders to help you cope during this holiday season.

  1. Surround yourself with people who love you and care about you.
  2. Talk with your loved ones about your emotions and feelings. Lean on them for nurturance and support as needed during the holidays. If necessary, take one of them to an event or gathering with you to have additional support.
  3. Do something to acknowledge your loved one.
  4. Often times, finding a way to honor your loved one is meaningful. Whether it be through lighting a candle at the holiday table, planting a tree, giving a gift to someone in need in honor of your loved one, or finding another way to acknowledge your loved ones’ absence, will be a great source of comfort during this difficult time.
  5. Accept that this holiday will be different than years past.
  6. Every year is different, and this year, particularly if it is the first without a loved one, will be difficult. Hold on to old traditions that involved your loved one as you are able to, but also be open to trying a new tradition.
  7. Plan ahead for the holidays
  8. Talk to your family about your plans for this holiday season. Create and make plans for comforting activities so you have something to look forward to. At the same time, don’t forget that you will need some time for solitude and to grieve, but try not to isolate yourself too much. Decide what activities you can handle, and what you can’t. Whatever you decide, it’s okay. There is no right or wrong answer.
  9. Allow and accept your feelings.
  10. Everyone experiences grief differently. We have to allow any feelings that we may have, including joy, sadness, and anger, without feeling guilty for having those feelings. Experiencing some joy during the holidays doesn’t mean you have forgotten your loved one. Remember, you are going through an incredibly difficult time! Be kind to yourself and allow your feelings, whatever they are.
Translate »