Coping With Grief During the Holidays

The stores are decorated, houses are lit, and the countdown has begun.  Christmas is a few short weeks away.  The song says “It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year!”  But… maybe it isn’t.

Grieving the loss of a loved one hurts deeply, no matter the season.  Feelings of sadness and depression don’t go away during the holidays.  In fact, many times those feelings become even more powerful.

If you are grieving a loss this holiday season,  don’t let anyone tell you how you “should” feel.  Everyone is different and grieves in their own way.  It doesn’t matter if a loved one died recently or a long time ago.  The holidays have a way of triggering memories that bring on emotions you may have not experienced in a while.  Allow yourself to work through your feelings instead of suppressing them.

Give yourself a break by limiting commitments like parties, shopping and Christmas cards.  You don’t have to do it the same way you’ve done it in the past.  Instead, think about starting new traditions.  You can find ways to incorporate your loved one into the holidays by sharing stories, lighting a candle, making a donation or preparing an old favorite meal.

Remember, time itself doesn’t heal all wounds.  It’s more about what you do with your time.  Lower your expectations, especially around the holidays.  Be true to yourself by experiencing the waves of grief naturally, as they come.  Lean on a friend or join a support group where you can be yourself and openly share your feelings with others who truly understand.  At the same time, don’t deny yourself feelings of joy and happiness.

It can be hard to think about being grateful while you’re grieving, but yet there is still much to be thankful for.  Consider reaching out to those who are more needy than you this holiday season, and you may find a small part of the void in your heart can be filled.

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