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Grieving During the Holidays

Posted 12-12-2018

Losing a loved one is hard. Losing a loved one around the holidays is even harder. During this time of year, we are reminded of childhood memories, favorite traditions and family. Not only are you cherishing the time spent with those around you, but you are also struck with grief for the ones who are no longer there. Knowing how to cope with these absences, especially during the holidays, can help bring some joy back into this time of year.

Ways to Cope with Grief During the Holidays

For many people, the first holiday after a loved one has passed is the hardest. These special days only magnify their absence and bring back memories of the times spent together. Hanukkah, Christmas and New Years are especially difficult. During these days, don’t run from the grief, embrace it. Grief is the way we mourn our loss and internalize our pain. Here are some of the ways you can cope with your grief during the holidays:

  • Set realistic expectations for yourself
  • Surround yourself with others who love and support you
  • Try to avoid “canceling” the holidays
  • Allow yourself to feel joy, alongside anger and sadness
  • Share your favorite memory/funny story of your loved one
  • Light a candle in their honor

Planning for The Holidays After Experiencing Loss

When grieving during the holidays, you are given a chance to evaluate what is truly important to you and what you enjoy the most. Don’t be afraid to change the way you celebrate. There is no right or wrong way to grieve the loss of a loved one. Only you know what is best for you, and your friends and family will support your decisions. 

Have a plan in place, as well as a plan B on how you are going to celebrate this season. If you plan to attend a dinner or a party with your family and/or friends and the day comes and it doesn’t feel right, have a fall back in place. Have a movie to watch that you and your loved one enjoyed together. Knowing there is an alternative option in place can be enough to ease your mind.

Creating New Holiday Traditions

After losing someone you love, the holiday may never feel the same. One way to move past the grief is by creating new traditions. By doing this, you can find ways to honor your loved one and reflect on what they left behind. Some of the ways to honor and remember your loved one include:

  • Choose your loved one’s favorite holiday dish and make sure it is made every holiday moving forward
  • Create a holiday playlist that reminds you of your loved one
  • Hold a moment of silence every holiday in remembrance of the ones no longer there
  • Hang your loved one’s favorite ornaments on your Christmas tree every year
  • Add an extra plate to your table setting in honor of your loved one who is no longer present

Holidays can be some of the most difficult times after losing someone we love. If you find you are struggling to cope, don’t be afraid to reach out for help. Whether you contact a family member, a friend or seek counseling, knowing that is someone there to listen and help you through the pain can make this time easier to navigate.