Healing after a loss is a journey that takes time and looks different for everyone, so it’s important to give yourself compassion and grace. Use these tips for coping with grief during the holidays.
Find solace while grieving during the holidays
After losing a loved one, the Christmas season can be a challenging time to grieve and heal. You may be experiencing a wide array of emotions that become especially difficult to process amid festive décor, gatherings and activities.
Determine what will be difficult
To help you prepare for conversations or gatherings, reflect on your fears and anxieties to identify the moments you dread, doing the hard work of examining your heart. Do your anxious moments include:
- Being alone or in a crowd?
- Having to be a host or not being invited to a gathering?
- Going to church?
- Writing or receiving Christmas cards?
Give yourself grace
Create a specific list of what will and won’t help your grief. When others ask how they can support you, don’t be afraid to share what’s on your heart. If you need to sit in the back during a church service so you have the option of leaving, or you want to gather for Christmas on a different day, let those around you know what you need.
Allow yourself to adapt
It’s okay if your holiday traditions look a little different this year. In fact, it may be worth considering changing how you celebrate the holidays and establishing new traditions for the years to come. Consider volunteering at your local food pantry or community center on days that you know will be especially difficult. Often one of the most healing things we can do is to help ease someone else’s hardship.
Honor your loved one
Give yourself time each day to grieve. Trying to act joyful when you feel sad may leave you overwhelmed and discouraged. Instead, find a way to honor your loved one’s presence in your heart and mind.
- Create memorial gifts for family members, such as a collection of favorite recipes from your deceased loved one.
- Donate to a charity to support a cause they believed in.
- Light a candle in your home in their memory.
- Place a special ornament on your Christmas tree.
- Purchase a Christmas tree and donate it to a hospice, nursing home or shelter.
If you’re struggling with grief this holiday season, there are more ways to honor the loss you feel and find hope
By Sarah Twombly and Adam Bissell