Coping With Grief During the Holidays
The holiday season is now in full swing. During this time of year, there is often an expectation to display a “holiday spirit” of cheeriness and joy. However, for those experiencing grief, the holidays can be an especially challenging time when we may not be in a festive mood or may be triggered by past traditions.
People can experience grief from different kinds of losses. We feel immense grief when we lose someone we love, but also from other life experiences as well. It can correspond with the traditional five stages of grief or it can function in a different order of those stages. Everyone copes with grief differently and that's okay.
Grief & COVID-19
This year, we have all experienced collective grief from the pandemic. COVID-19 has affected almost every aspect of our daily lives. There has been a loss of routines and traditions that are upsetting because we’ve grown accustomed to them. Many people are experiencing a loss of financial stability, loss of their traditional work or school structure, loss of their regular social interactions, or even the loss of a loved one. These changes that have occured from the pandemic can even lead to a loss in our sense of self or identities. But one thing is for sure: you're not alone in the grief you're feeling right now.
With so much loss that has been felt this year, the holidays may seem more disheartening than joyful. Here are some of our recommendations that may help for coping with grief this holiday season:
Name and Claim Grief
We have to feel and accept our emotions in order to move through them. Identifying the feelings we're having as grief is the first step we can take to process it. Journaling or speaking with someone who supports you is a great way to put words to our losses. Once we acknowledge that what we're feeling is grief, then we can begin to identify ways to move forward based off what we already know about our unique strengths and coping skills.
Celebrate in Whatever Way You Wish
There's no right or wrong way to celebrate the holidays. You can still stick with traditions if that comforts you or you can decide to celebrate differently this year. If you are grieving, you may not want to take part in the same ways you have before and that's completely okay too. You can decide how you would like to honor this holiday season and what will bring you peace during this time.
Acknowledge What Makes You Feel Good
Consider what brings you feelings of love, joy and connection during this time. Taking stock of the good things can help us focus more on the positive aspects of our lives. Ask yourself, "When do I feel my best? Who am I when I feel my best? What am I doing when I feel my best?" Whatever your answers are, hold onto them. During this holiday season, lean into the things that make you feel good and that can help you get you through this time.
Give Yourself Grace
Grief can have us feeling a range of emotions. Be kind and patient with yourself if you find that you're feeling great one minute, and then overcome by sadness the next. Just because it's the holidays doesn't mean that you should have to hide or avoid processing what you're feeling in the name of being festive. Give yourself a break and allow yourself to feel whatever you need to feel during this process.
The people who love and care about us can help us the most during tough times. You don't have to go through the holidays alone. Even if you're not able to see your loved ones in person this year, you can still reach out to them virtually and lean on them during this time. If you continue to feel consumed by grief, you can also begin talking to a compassionate therapist who will listen and give you more tools to manage your grief and cope this holiday season.
Other Helpful Articles
How to Cope With Grief During the Holidays
Grief: An Unexpected Reaction to COVID-19
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