Grieving through the Holidays

Grieving through the Holidays

Nov 15, 2019

Counseling, Center for Grief Loss & Transition


The holiday season is tough for many – it can increase stress related to finances or difficult family relationships.  The holidays also coincide with the lowest-light days of the year, during which some experience lower energy or a shift in mood.  The holiday season can be particularly painful and isolating for those who are grieving the loss of a loved one, whether that loss was 6 weeks ago or 6+ years ago.  The holidays are, for many, a time of togetherness and celebration.  Reminders of the absence of your loved one can show up in many ways during this time, which can in turn amplify feelings of grief, sadness, anger, or loneliness. 

The FamilyMeans Center for Grief & Loss provides some ideas to help you to be present with your grief and also take care of yourself through this season:

  • Grieving people can often identify the people who allow them to feel their authentic feelings without judgment or expectations. If you have them, be sure to use them. If not, seek them out in venues where you can be with others who are grieving.
  •  It is an important time to check in with yourself and your emotions, thoughts, and physical sensations –journaling or writing can be helpful with this. 
  • Seek out peaceful moments/time for quiet reflection –you deserve them! 
  • Grief is exhausting and the holidays can be too. This is a good time to allow yourself to slow down and even let go of some of your usual self–expectations. Simplifying is a great gift!
  • Thinking and planning ahead is often helpful –with lots of room for flexibility if things change - choose what feels best for YOU .The days just before and after the holiday are often challenging as well, so planning for them can be just as important.
  •  This is an important time to honor memories that help you feel connected to your loved one. Some people find photos and listening to music helpful. Trust what you are ready for! 
  •  Consider creating a new tradition(s). 
  •  Feel free to discard a tradition that doesn’t work for you or doesn’t work for you THIS year.
  •  Asking for, (and accepting) help is not always easy but is a kindness you deserve. (Others are often helped as well.)  It is also okay to say no and to consider what is genuinely helpful.
  •  This is a good time to continue or increase your healthy self- care. Attend to nutrition, rest, exercise, self -nurturing in whatever way you can.
  •  While you are practicing your positive self-care, remember to be extra mindful of your food/caffeine/alcohol intake.
  •  Consider on-line shopping—if you decide or must shop in the stores, be mindful of times that are less busy and stores that won’t be decorated in ways that may be difficult for you.
  •  Find ways to let out your feelings: talking to someone, crying, drawing, etc.
  •  You are the expert in finding the balance between time alone and with others.
  •  You may need to plan responses you can make to others when they say things that are not helpful or request something that does not feel right. 
  •  Communicating your wishes to others may not be easy but is important in caring for yourself and your relationships. Expecting yourself or others to read minds is usually not helpful. 
  •  Grief can be a great reminder of our humanness and limitations. Consider ways you can accept and honor your own limits (emotional, physical and spiritual).

 Grieving does not look the same for everyone. Listen to your body, heart, and mind during this time. If you are feeling like you need more support, reach out to FamilyMeans’ Center for Grief & Loss. We can help you to work through these challenges and find what is best for you.