Tips for Dealing with Grief Around the Holidays and Special Occasions

By: Ian Elliott
Friday, November 27, 2015

The holidays and other special occasions can be a particularly difficult time to deal with the loss of a loved one. The emphasis on getting together and being cheerful can make the feelings associated with loss even more sharply defined. Also, we may think that grief is supposed to look a certain way and we don't want to have to act differently than we feel. The truth is that grief is different for everyone and it’s okay to feel exactly as you do. Here are a few tips for dealing with grief, in whatever form it takes, while the festivities are taking place.

Taking Space Without Becoming Isolated

It is okay to take space to feel your feelings and grieve the loss of a loved one. This is healthy and normal. It is not healthy to lock yourself away, and stop speaking to people who care about you. During the holidays, remember that it is okay to let people know you need a little more space than usual, but make sure that you do let them know, don't just disappear! There are moments for sinking into your pillow and having a good cry, but at a certain point in each day, or week you need to get up and wash your face and put some clean clothes on and greet the world. If you can't do this then it is time to ask for help.

Finding Support

It may seem as though some people have tons of friends and family and are never alone, but we all have moments, especially when we are dealing with grief, that we feel incredibly lonely. The holidays can really accentuate this feeling. Though it may not feel like it sometimes, we are never truly alone in this world full of people. If it is too hard to reach out to a friend or family member, then there are professionals there to support you. In most communities you can find individual or group bereavement counselling, otherwise any professional counsellor will have knowledge of how to support your process. Especially during the holidays, a non-judgmental ear to talk to can provide a huge relief.

Taking Care of Your Health

The holidays are famous for excessive consumption of food and alcoholic beverages. Even when we are feeling our best, we often live to regret binging on chocolate, wine or whatever our guilty pleasure happens to be. When we are grieving these can have far more detrimental effects. Alcohol is a depressant. Though it may seem to lift us up at first, or numb the pain, it will inevitably lead to a downward spiral if over-consumed. Our bodies need healthy food and lots of water to heal from stress and emotional upset. Get lots of rest and eat a salad!

Honouring Your Loved One

If you are used to spending this holiday or special occasion with the loved one you have lost, then it may feel daunting to face it without them. Remember, they live on in your memories and love for them. You can continue to do the special things you used to do together and to think about the way they would have enjoyed something. You can make new holiday rituals that honour their memory, or give gifts to less fortunate people in their honour. Sometimes, the best way to deal with your grief during the holidays is to let your love shine brighter than ever before.

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