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5 Ways to Cope with Grief During the Holidays

The holiday season is a time for gathering with loved ones and spending time together, but it can be challenging for those who have lost a loved one. For people grieving, it can feel like the holidays magnify everything that isn’t there, making it hard to bring cheeriness and joy to festivities and family gatherings. 

If you’re going through a period of grieving, this blog will offer you some useful tips for ways to better cope and enjoy the holidays. Remember, making a plan for yourself while grieving will help you receive the support you need and allow you to enjoy yourself to the fullest this holiday season.

5 Ways to Cope with Grief During the Holidays:

Take Care of Your Needs First

As the saying goes, you can’t pour from an empty cup. This is especially true during the holiday season when we gather with loved ones and expectations for joyful conversation are high. Making it your priority to refill your cup is a way to shore up your spirits when it’s time to give back, socialize, and wear an earnest smile.

Some simple ways to refill your spirit when experiencing the loss of a loved one includes:

  • Eating three meals a day (even light meals count)
  • Getting a healthy amount of sleep to recharge and refresh
  • Going for a walk or doing some light exercise to boost your energy levels
  • Reading a book, listening to music, or watching a movie to uplift and inspire you
  • Keeping up with daily chores around the house
  • Knowing when to say no

Remember, caring for yourself should be priority number one when grieving, but that also doesn’t mean shying away from enjoying yourself with others. 

Heather Billingham, a Bereavement Supervisor stressed the importance of self-care during this busy time: “Self-care is so important during the holidays. We recommend people don’t make too many plans in order to not overwhelm themselves. It could be as simple as making sure you have a ride home when you want to leave. But most importantly, we remind people to give themselves a chance to enjoy the holidays, even during hard times.” 

Surround Yourself with People Who Love and Support You

Find time to be with people who understand what you’re going through, especially those who had a relationship with the person you are grieving for. Connections like these create a safe environment for honest conversations and mutual emotional outlets. Recalling positive memories with others also creates positive connections that will help you along the journey of grieving and healing.  

Create a New Tradition

In order to move forward toward healing and acceptance, it’s important we create new memories. Allow yourself to experience new things, travel to new places, and invite new things into your life and the life of your loved ones. 

“We’re not trying to learn to live without our loved ones, we are learning how to live life differently and connect in a new way.” – Heather Billingham

Start a conversation with your family or loved ones about what traditions you want to keep celebrating—perhaps a tradition that was especially meaningful to those who have passed—or think about creating a new tradition you can have as the months and years pass to remember and celebrate the life and memory of those who have departed.

Serve Others

Serving others in our communities is a tremendous way to improve low feelings by focusing your energy on the needs of others. During the holidays, there are many ways to give back to others, including volunteering at a food bank, community events, local fairs, or even inviting someone new to your festivities. 

Focusing on others helps our own hearts heal.

Allow Yourself to Feel Your Emotions

Even during the best of times, the holidays can be an emotional time. Memories of years past blend with the excitement of times to come. Catching up with friends and family can likewise bring a mix of emotions. Happiness and excitement during a time of loss is nothing to be ashamed of, and likewise having sad or hopeless feelings during times of celebration are no reason to feel out of place. 

Give yourself time and space to sit with how you’re truly feeling. Those closest to you will understand if you need to excuse yourself for a moment or two if things get overwhelming.


Quotes for Coping with Grief During the Holidays

“To Live in the hearts we leave behind is not to die” – Thomas Campbell

“God gave us memory so we might have roses in December” – J.M. Barrie

“How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard” – Winnie The Pooh

“Never. We never lose our loved ones. They accompany us; they don’t disappear from our lives. We are merely in different rooms.” – Paulo Coelho

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