Updated: Nov 16
The holiday season is a time that's often filled with joy, laughter, and celebration. However, when you're grieving the loss of a loved one, this time of year can become overwhelmingly sad and met with unexpected challenges. The collision of grief and the holiday season can trigger feelings of anxiety and depression, making it difficult to find joy in what should be a festive time. While it's impossible to anticipate all your emotions, there are strategies you can employ to help ease the burden. In this blog, we'll explore some tips and suggestions to make surviving the holidays a little more manageable.
Acknowledge Your Feelings: Grief is a complex and individual experience. It's important to acknowledge your emotions and give yourself permission to grieve. Understand that it's okay to feel sadness, anger, and even moments of happiness amidst the sorrow. By accepting your feelings, you can begin to navigate the holiday season with greater compassion for yourself.
Create New Traditions: Holidays often revolve around familiar traditions, and these can be especially painful when you've lost a loved one. Consider creating new traditions that honor their memory. Light a candle in their honor, gather friends and family to propose a toast to your loved one, hang a special ornament on the tree or the front door, or cook their favorite side dish. These acts can bring a sense of connection and keep their memory alive.
Be Selfish With Your Time: Grief is already physically and emotionally draining on a regular day. By setting boundaries and limiting your time, you can help prevent exhaustion and additional emotional strain. Communicate your needs with your loved ones and let them know that you may need some time alone or to leave an event early. It's even ok to forfeit the entire day and stay home in bed, really! Remember it's just one day. A supportive circle of friends and family will understand and respect your boundaries, allowing you to reset and manage your grief more effectively.
Grief can be isolating, but you don't have to go through it alone. Reach out to friends and family who understand your pain and can offer support. Sharing your thoughts and feelings can be incredibly healing and help you feel less alone during the holidays. Just be sure you can trust the person(s) you share your grief with. Not everyone is equipped to handle the heart of the griever.
Set Realistic Expectations: Holidays often come with a long list of expectations. It's crucial to set realistic and manageable expectations for yourself. Understand that it's okay to decline invitations or cut back on your usual holiday activities if they feel too overwhelming. Focus on what you can handle, and don't be too hard on yourself for not meeting others' expectations.
Self-Care is Key: Grieving can be emotionally and physically draining. Make self-care a priority during the holidays. This may include taking time to rest, meditate, exercise, or engage in creative activities that bring you solace. A self-care routine can help you manage your stress and anxiety effectively.
Seek Professional Help: If you find that your grief is becoming overwhelming and negatively impacting your mental health, don't hesitate to seek professional help. A therapist or counselor can provide guidance and support tailored to your unique situation.
Create a Memory Keepsake: To honor your loved one, consider creating a memory keepsake. This could be a scrapbook, a digital album, or a video montage that captures cherished moments and memories. This project can be a therapeutic way to focus on the positive aspects of your relationship with your loved one. Get others involved to share photos and memories they may have as well.
Volunteer or Give Back: Sometimes, giving back to others in need can provide a sense of purpose and fulfillment. Consider volunteering with a local charity or participating in holiday charitable events. Acts of kindness can help shift your focus from grief to making a positive impact in the lives of others.
Conclusion: Coping with grief during the holidays is undoubtedly a challenging journey, but by acknowledging your feelings, creating new traditions, seeking support, and practicing self-care, you can find ways to make this time a little more bearable. Remember, there is no one-size-fits-all solution, and it's okay to grieve in your own way. This is your life, and your grief. The key is to be kind to yourself and allow the healing process to unfold naturally. With time and self-compassion, you can find moments of comfort and even hope during the holiday season, despite the pain of your loss. I am a living witness.
Kelly Buffaloe Taylor, a Certified Grief Counselor at I Heal Tap, a dedicated grief and bereavement wellness service. With a deep passion for helping individuals navigate the challenging journey of grief, I bring both professional expertise and personal understanding to my work.
My mission is to provide compassionate support, guidance, and healing to those who are grieving. Through my blog posts, I aim to share valuable insights, short personal stories of my own loss, coping strategies, and resources that can help you or your loved ones find solace during difficult times.
Whether you're here seeking guidance, information, or simply a sense of connection with someone who understands, I'm here for you. Together, we can explore the path toward healing and resilience in the face of loss.