Grief is difficult no matter what time of year it is, but during the holidays, it can cut especially deep. The holidays can intensify your loved one’s loss, and what was once a joyful time of year can turn into an incredibly challenging one as your loved one isn’t there to share in traditions with, isn’t there to celebrate with, isn’t there… The grief can overwhelm. Coping with grief over the holidays is hard, no matter how you spin it.
Some people find it comforting to take part in holiday traditions, spending time with others, and honoring their deceased loved one’s memory. Others find it best to withdraw and spend time alone. There is no right way to deal with grief. Everyone experiences it and copes with it in different ways. What matters is that your way of coping with grief over the holidays is what comforts you, what feels right to you, and doesn’t take you down any unhealthy paths.
If you are coping with grief over the holidays this year – or any year, here are some tips that may make coping with grief over the holidays at least a little more manageable.
#1. Do What Feels Right
Grief is a complex thing. No one is affected by it the same way, and what is helpful for one person can be the exact opposite for someone else. There is no one way to experience grief and there is no one method for coping with grief over the holidays that will work for everyone. It’s important to do what feels right to you.
For some people, it is best to lose themselves in the distraction of holiday event planning. Some people like to go through with all of their holiday traditions while honoring their loved one’s loss. For others, they may need to withdraw and not do as much, while for others, the holidays as a whole can be too painful, and they need alternatives to cope with their grief. Basking in happy memories and immersing yourself in holiday cheer can work wonderfully for some, while others need to just get through the day, or give themselves plans that aren’t holiday related, to lessen their dread.
#2. Acknowledge Your Emotions
When coping with grief over the holidays, some people can feel guilty for experiencing joy while others may feel guilty for not wanting to participate at all. It’s important to remember that there is no one way to experience grief and that there is no ‘right’ way to do this. Acknowledging your emotions and the fact that sometimes, they’ll change, sometimes, they won’t change at all, can help you with coping with grief over the holidays. Be gentle with yourself. You’re doing the best you can.
#3. Reach Out For Support
Sometimes, we can’t manage grief on our own. There’s no shame in reaching out for support; it can be a beautiful, helpful thing. Whether you reach out to friends or family or whether you reach out to a professional therapist, support can help carry you through this difficult time and give you the tools and the strength to find your way of living with this grief. Sometimes, the loss of a loved one can cause people to sink into depression or develop other mental health issues, and sometimes people turn to mechanisms like alcohol to try to cope with their emotions and their loss.
Whether you reach out for professional help, regardless of whether you feel yourself slipping mental health wise, or just let your friends and family know that you’ll need extra support this time of year and may need to bow out of events early, having some sort of support can greatly help with coping with grief over the holidays.
#4. Honor Their Memory
Creating a way in which you can honor your deceased loved one’s memory can help you both acknowledge your loss and find a way to include them into the holidays still. Whether that be lighting a candle, making their favorite treat, doing something that they loved, there are many ways you can honor your loved one’s memory this holiday season, should that be a helpful coping mechanism for you.
#5. Do Something Different
The holidays are already changed this year, so for some, doing something different can help them cope. Your traditions aren’t the same without your loved one there, and they won’t ever feel quite the same again because of that. For some, starting a new tradition or doing something different can give you something to focus on other than their loss. Maybe you change how you have a holiday dinner. Maybe instead of going to the ballet, you go ice skating. For some, new traditions and a new way to make memories can help ease the grief, at least a little.
#6. Help Others
Some people find giving of themselves to be an immense comfort in times of sorrow. You may donate to a charity or give your time to those in need. Some find it helpful to try to help those who may suffer in similar ways or with how they lost their loved one. If you lost your loved one to heart disease, donating to a hospital or charity focused on heart disease may help. If you lost them to suicide, perhaps volunteering for a suicide prevention hotline can make you feel you are doing some good. Sometimes, the best way to cope with grief is to try to alleviate the suffering of others and giving of yourself.
#7. Give Yourself Time
There’s a saying that goes something like, no matter how much time has passed since your loved one died, the hole they left never truly goes away, but you grow around it. Give yourself time to grow to learn to live with your grief, to learn to cope, to feel, to live. Some people can move on from their loss very quickly, while others need a lot more time. It doesn’t matter how much time it takes you. What matters is that you are gentle with yourself. There is no right way to grieve and there is no set time frame for when it becomes easier.
Coping with grief over the holidays is challenging. Russon Brothers Mortuary And Cemetery have many resources available to help you get through this holiday season. If you’ve recently lost your loved one, our funeral director can help you through this difficult time. To learn more about how we can help you with our funeral services or how hiring a funeral director can help you through this difficult time, please don’t hesitate to contact us today.