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  • Writer's pictureMichelle Barsky

How to Cope with Grief and Loss During the Holidays

During the holidays, many people who have lost loved ones find themselves feeling a deep sense of grief. Even if you thought you had accepted the loss, your first holidays without your loved ones can send your emotions spiraling. Trying to celebrate without them can make you feel like an old wound has been reopened.

If you’ve been dreading the holidays in the absence of your loved one, it’s perfectly normal. While there is no escaping the fact that you will likely miss them more than usual during this time of year, you can still find moments of joy in the midst of the holiday season. Here are a few tips to help you deal with grief and loss around the holidays.

Accept Your Emotions

First, it’s important to allow yourself to simply feel whatever you are feeling. You do not have to fight your difficult emotions. If you’re sad, it’s okay to cry. Chances are, you’re not the only one in your family or circle of friends who feels this way, especially if this is your first holiday season after your loved one’s passing.

Connect With Close Relatives

While you may not be close with all of your relatives, you may have someone in your family who you feel comfortable talking to about your loved one. And if the person you lost was a close friend, this could be a good time to get in touch with your mutual friends and reminisce.

Laughing about the good times can bring you some relief. And if you need a shoulder to cry on, you can comfort each other.

Keep Traditions Alive

You can keep your loved one’s spirit alive this holiday season by focusing on old traditions. If there was a dish they always loved, find the recipe and make it again this year. Maybe they liked to get your family together for annual photos in the same spot. This year, you could coordinate another photoshoot to keep the tradition going.

Fill Vacant Roles

As you make plans to continue special traditions that your loved one was passionate about, you might realize that they played a vital role in holiday get-togethers.

For example, maybe they always hosted holiday dinners at their home, or perhaps they always started an annual toast during celebrations. If this is the case, talk to your other loved ones in advance to decide who can fill these roles. That way, you won’t be caught off guard when the day arrives.

Consider Volunteering

Sometimes, helping others is the best way to get your mind off of your own struggles. If you want to focus on something else for a few hours, you might want to get involved with a local volunteer organization over the holidays. Lending a helping hand can soothe your soul. This can be an especially fulfilling decision if you aren’t close with your relatives or your loved one’s other friends.

Practice Coping Skills

Finally, it’s a good idea to apply any coping skills you’ve learned over the holidays. This could mean meditating, writing in a journal, or even going for long walks when you’re feeling distressed.

But if you find that your usual coping skills just aren’t enough during this emotionally tumultuous time, you may want to talk to a therapist. You’ll be able to express your feelings and say whatever is on your mind. Talking about your loved one’s memory can bring a sense of peace.

Are you struggling to cope with the loss of a loved one this holiday season? Talking to a therapist can help. Reach out to me today to discuss your options for scheduling your first session.

For information on depression treatment, click here.

For information on how I work using IFS therapy, click here.


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