Coping with Grief During the Holidays


For many people, the holiday season can bring a fresh wave of grief. The loss of a loved one can leave you feeling depressed around this season of family gatherings and traditions.

Navigating what used to be a joyous time in your life can be difficult, but there are healthy ways to cope. Here are some ways to deal with grief during the holidays.

1. Let Yourself Feel the Emotions

It sounds counterintuitive to not hold your emotions in check, but it’s necessary to give yourself permission to feel. The sorrow is there, yes, but so is happiness. Allow yourself to experience a range of emotions during this time and don’t be afraid to remember how things used to be. It’s all part of the healing process.

Experiencing the grief and allowing yourself to remember your loved one is what healing is all about. You’ve heard that time heals wounds, but the truth is that feeling heartache can help you recover more than time ever could. Emotions, even the bad ones, help you reconcile with what happened and continue moving forward.

2. Set Boundaries

It’s tempting to hide away and become a recluse as a way of coping with grief and loss during the holidays, but setting boundaries may be a better option. Let your family and friends know you are grieving and ask for space when you need to. There may be traditions you used to do but feel you can’t face right now, so be willing to speak up and say no. You should focus on yourself and your grieving process rather than trying to make everyone happy by attending an event.

3. Control What You Can

Some things about the holiday season are out of your control, such as decorations around town or shops playing Christmas music. When you’re at home, however, you can completely control your environment. This can be a way of coping with grief and loss during the holidays. If you feel you can’t face certain traditions or events, it’s okay to skip them this year. Focus on the things you can control and don’t worry about the others.

This may be difficult if you are living with others who aren’t facing a loss. It’s important to have an honest conversation with your roommates, partner, or children, and explain what you need to help you cope during this difficult time.

4. Seek Out Help

Don’t be afraid to ask for help, especially during the holiday season. Whether you turn to family and friends or a licensed therapist, speaking with someone can help you process your emotions and find healthy ways to cope.

Working with a professional can be especially helpful. Counselors are specially trained to help you process grief and other difficult emotions. They can teach you coping skills and offer an unbiased perspective on navigating difficult situations with family and friends.

5. Remember That Your Healing Matters

Grieving takes time. The holidays can be a difficult season for many people. If you are struggling, remember to take time for yourself. There’s no shame in saying no to an event or passing up some traditions. Focus on your healing, and know that your needs are valid.

If you feel you might benefit from having someone to help you through the grieving process, reach out to The Light Program to see what type of counseling might be helpful. Call us today at (888) 686-7511 to have an informal conversation about what would most benefit you.