Coping with Loss During the Holidays

By: Shama Rhoden
Wednesday, January 6, 2016

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.


Plan Ahead

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.

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