Coping with Grief During the Holidays

The holiday season can be especially challenging for those who are grieving. The absence of a loved one can be difficult to deal with during this time. Reflecting on holiday memories can bring both happiness and pain.

There’s no perfect plan for those grieving during the holidays, as grief is so unique for each of us, but here are a few ways that might make the season feel less painful:

  • Try not to isolate yourself; having a close friend visit with you may help.
  • Create a memory stocking full of handwritten memories of your loved one. Write some yourself and have other family members write some, too. Read the memories during the holidays and share them with others.
  • Decorate a small, special tree just for your loved one with trinkets, photos and other memories.
  • Buy a present for your loved one to keep or to donate.
  • Make a toast to your loved one at the holiday table.
  • Light a candle in his or her honor.
  • Carry on the traditions that your loved one used to do, such has hang the stockings or pass out the presents.
  • Share funny or touching holiday memories of your loved one.
  • Buy a clear ornament and fill it up with trinkets that remind you of your loved one.
  • Volunteer at a local shelter or soup kitchen, or help a family in need.

Some folks may continue to carry on their holiday traditions, while others might opt to completely change the way they’ve celebrated in the past. Do what is right for you. The key to getting through the holidays is to do what makes you feel comfortable.

Plan to spend holiday time with people you can share your feelings with and who support you. Be honest about your grief; letting others know what you need is important. When spending time with others during the holidays, have a back-up plan in case your grief is too painful to bear.

Jessica Roschen, M.S., is a bereavement counselor at Carroll Hospice.

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