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Coping with Grief During the Holidays
2023 Edition

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Just like we did last year, we’re here to offer support to those coping with grief during the holidays. As therapists and fellow grievers, we’re here for you. If you’re grappling with the absence of a loved one, the end of a significant relationship, or any profound loss, this time of year can be particularly challenging. Our hope is to normalize grief during the holidays and help you find your way through this holiday season with self-compassion & love.

Normalizing Grief During the Holidays

Before we dive into our holiday survival tips, it’s important to recognize and normalize the wide range of grief experiences that many of us face during this time of year. The holiday season, often portrayed as a time of unbridled joy and family gatherings, can be particularly challenging for those who are grieving. Whether it’s the first holiday without a loved one, or even several years on, the festive cheer can sometimes deepen the sense of loss and loneliness.

Heightened Emotions

The holidays can act like an amplifier for your feelings. You might find yourself more tearful, irritable, or nostalgic. These intensified emotions are a normal part of grief during such a significant time.

Changing Traditions

You might find that old traditions no longer bring the same joy, or they may now carry a sense of sadness. It’s okay to change, adapt, or even skip certain traditions if they feel too painful this year.

Social Withdrawal

The desire to withdraw from social gatherings is common. You might feel out of place amidst the festive spirit, or simply not have the energy to engage in celebrations.

Mixed Emotions

It’s normal to experience a confusing mix of emotions – moments of joy interspersed with sadness or guilt. Enjoying yourself does not diminish the love you have for the person you’re grieving.

Physical Symptom

Grief can manifest physically, especially during stressful times like the holidays. You might experience changes in appetite, sleep disturbances, or a general sense of fatigue.

Yearning and Reminiscing

The holidays can bring back memories and a strong sense of longing for what was. Reflecting on past holidays with your loved one is a common way grief presents itself.

Strategies for
Coping with Grief During the Holidays

As we move into our holiday survival guide, remember that these tips are not about eradicating grief, but about finding ways to manage and cope with it during a time that can be particularly challenging. Your feelings are valid, and it’s okay to approach the holiday season in a way that honors both your loss and your need for self-care.

Now, let’s explore some strategies to help you navigate the holiday season with a heart full of grief…

Let's Not Pretend Grief isn't Sucking the Air out of the room.

The festive season can intensify feelings of loss and sadness. Acknowledging this is crucial. Don’t pressure yourself to conform to the typical holiday cheer. It’s like squeezing into a too-small sweater – uncomfortable and unnecessary.

Coping with Grief Through New Traditions

Honoring a lost loved one can be a therapeutic way to cope. Start a new tradition in their memory – light a candle, play their favorite holiday tune, or attempt their legendary (yet perhaps not-so-tasty) holiday recipe. It’s a meaningful way to keep their spirit present.

Comfort in Simplicity

Find solace in simple, cozy activities. Wrap up in a blanket, enjoy a warm drink, and allow yourself to just be. Embrace your emotions, whatever they may be, in your personal ‘Grief Burrito.’

Saying"No" Is A Part Of Coping with Grief

You’ll likely receive numerous invitations to holiday gatherings. Remember, it’s perfectly okay to decline. If you do attend, plan an exit strategy. Knowing you have the option to leave can make staying more manageable.

Laughter Amidst Tears

Grief can be overwhelming, but it’s okay to find humor in life’s absurdities. Laugh at silly holiday movies, quirky sweaters, and even your emotional ups and downs. Joy amidst sorrow is not disrespectful – it’s human.

Reach Out To Loved ones

Don’t hesitate to lean on friends, family, or a therapist. Talking about your loved one or your feelings can be incredibly cathartic. It’s like releasing pressure gradually to avoid an emotional explosion.

Coping with Grief?
Our Online Grief Counselor Can Help

Final Thoughts on
Coping with Grief & Loving Yourself Through It All

Grieving during the holidays can feel like an unwelcome, lingering guest. Yet, it’s also a reflection of the deep love and connections you’ve experienced. Honor your emotions, practice self-care, and remember it’s okay to experience a mix of sadness and happiness. You’re not alone in this journey. May this holiday season bring you moments of peace and comfort.

Coping with grief during the holidays is a deeply personal experience. Remember, it’s okay to seek professional help if you find yourself struggling. Your mental health is important, and support is available.

Here’s to finding your way through this season with grace, love and self-compassion.

coping with grief during the holidays managing grief and depression

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