The phrase “the most wonderful time of the year” is synonymous with the holiday season. There is even a classic holiday song by the same name. But, for anyone dealing with the loss of a loved one, the holidays can often feel anything but wonderful. Holiday traditions and time spent with loved ones can often be painful reminders of what you have lost, whether it’s recent or several years have passed. Rather than comfort and joy, the holiday season can become a time of dread and loneliness. If you are coping with the loss of a loved one, you are not alone. Here are a few tips for managing grief this holiday season.
- Consider your traditions. Some traditions or cherished activities can feel too painful to carry on without your loved one. It can be helpful to examine your traditions ahead of time and decide what is best for you and your loved ones. For many, practicing old traditions can be a way to honor your loved one and preserve their memory. For example, eating their favorite holiday meal or making a donation to their favorite charity in their honor.
- Allow yourself to feel emotions. Everyone has their own unique grief experience, and everyone draws different emotions from this time. Don’t feel pressure to “hold it together” or hold back sadness for fear of being perceived as a “downer”. But it’s also ok to laugh or smile. It doesn’t mean you have forgotten your loved one.
- Set realistic expectations for yourself. With the holiday season comes many tasks and events, such as decorating the house, cooking, shopping and attending parties. It can be helpful to take it easy and delegate some of these tasks to others to avoid feeling stressed or overwhelmed. You don’t have to accept every invitation if you don’t feel up to it.
- Take care of yourself. Grief can be exhausting for both the mind and body. Thinking about what you can do to physically take care of yourself, whether it’s extra rest, light exercise or other meditation can give you the strength to face your emotional challenges.
- Draw support from others. You don’t have to face the holiday season alone. Lean on family and friends to help you—whether it’s by listening, talking about favorite memories, providing a distraction or just being there. There are also support groups available so that you can talk and connect with others who are facing a similar experience.
The holidays can be difficult when you’re grieving. Please know that you are not alone. If you are feeling alone or are having difficulty managing emotions please call our Helpline at 1-888-793-9355.