Coping with Loss During the Holidays
For each of us, at different times in our lives, the loss of a loved one will affect us differently.
Yet, it is commonly one of the hardest things we will go through, with grief and change being an
all-consuming process. Despite the fact that we may wish we could forget the holidays during a
time of grief, they still come. Along with holidays may come memories, family and friends
wanting to visit, and a call for us to be a part of the hustle-bustle and cheer. If you are facing the
holidays while coping with the loss of a loved one, the following are some things to keep in mind
to help get you through.
If you are reading this blog then you are already taking this step, but here are a few details to
help make planning effective. If you are dreading some things you know will come with the
holidays, such as certain memories arising or a visit from family members who mean well but
get under your skin, you may want to spend some time thinking about or writing about those
By seeing those things in advance, you are better equipped to avoid certain triggers or to deal
with them more appropriately as they show up. Knowing what your triggers are makes them less
likely to side-swipe you. Remember, it is natural to have strong feelings. You cannot avoid some
of the grief you will experience, but by considering the possibilities ahead of time you may feel
more okay with what is happening in the moment.
On the other hand, it can be okay to avoid situations that will be very distressing, however,
those closest to you will understand. This is one time in your life when it is okay to be selfish.
Make Time to Grieve
A coping strategy for many is to remain busy to avoid thinking about the loss or having to deal
with the strong feelings that come up. This is not a negative coping strategy and can be useful
to a point, but if the emotions are left to build up, they can come out in unforeseen ways or take
an immense toll on your health. The holidays can be a busy time and so it can be easy to get
wrapped up in doing things and not take the time to identify with your true feelings. Carving out
some space in the day or week to feel your grief means that you can continue to live your life
while honoring your feelings.
Call on Support
Feelings of loneliness or difficulty with day-to-day necessities are common after a loved one has
passed. These effects can increase during the holidays. It is important that you have a lot of
extra care and support at this time of year if you're having a hard time. This means giving extra
care to yourself, such as eating healthy foods and going outside for a walk. It can also mean
asking for extra care from friends and family. Accepting help is not always easy but this is one
time in your life when you can let down your guard. People are generally glad to help. You may
also want to seek out a counselor or a bereavement support group(s) in your area so that you
can share with people who truly understand what you’re going through.
Give yourself the gift of extra care this holiday season.