Holiday Grief: How to Cope With Loss During a Joyous Time

It’s the holiday season, a time that’s supposed to be joyful and festive. But for many people, this time of year can be difficult, especially if you or someone you care about are struggling with the loss of a loved one. If you’re feeling grief this holiday season, know that you’re not alone.

 

It can be particularly difficult to deal with grief during the holidays. Holiday traditions may serve as a reminder of what has been lost, and the happiness of others can make grieving individuals feel isolated and alone.

 

However, there are ways to cope with holiday grief in order to feel more supported through the season. Let’s take a look at some tips on how to cope with loss during the holidays.

 

How to Approach Those Struggling With a Loss

It can be challenging to approach someone who is grieving during the holiday season. You may be worried about saying the wrong thing or making them feel worse. However, it’s important to reach out and offer your care and support.

 

Clinical psychologist and author of the book “Focused Positivity: The Path to Success and Peace of Mind,” John F. Tholen, PhD notes “the best way to approach others who are struggling with a major loss—or who are likely to have had their grief exacerbated by confronting a first holiday season without the loved one—is usually to do nothing more than validate their feelings, make it clear that we care and want to be of help, and then be guided by their response.”

 

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According to Tholen, examples of potentially appropriate things to say include

“I can only imagine how difficult it must be for you to face the holidays without…” or

“I want you to know that I care and want to help however I can.”

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Below are some additional tips on how to approach someone who is grieving:

 

  • Acknowledge their loss. It’s OK to say something to them about what happened. Avoid phrases like “at least” or “it was for the best.”
  • Listen. Sometimes the best thing you can do is just listen. Let them talk about their loved one and their grief. Avoid giving advice or telling them how they should feel.
  • Offer or extend practical help. Ask if there’s anything you can do to help, whether running errands, cooking a meal, or just sitting with them in silence. You can also take the initiative to do something to make their life easier as it may be overwhelming for someone who is grieving to have to think of anything else.
  • Be patient. Grief is a process and it doesn’t happen overnight. Allow them the time they need to heal. Each person grieves in their own way and at their own pace. Extend compassion and grace and do not judge them for the time or ways that they may express their grief and move through their grieving process.

 

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The best way to approach others who are struggling with a major loss …

is usually to do nothing more than validate their feelings, make it clear

that we care and want to be of help, and then be guided by their response.

~John F. Tholen, PhD | Best Online Grief Counseling

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How to Keep the Spirit of a Loved One Alive This Season

If you’re struggling with the loss of a loved one this holiday season, there are still ways to keep their spirit close if it feels true and honoring for you to do so.

 

Licensed marriage and family therapist Heidi McBain notes that it’s important to talk about your loved one:

 

“Share stories with other people who miss them too. Use their name in these conversations. Try to keep a fun memory alive. Growing up, we used to do ‘secret’ donuts with Dad (even though my mom was in on it and just didn’t want to partake). Any time I get donuts with my own kids, be it a holiday or just because, we always talk about my dad and the ‘secret’ donuts.”

 

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Share stories with other people who miss them too. Use their name in these conversations.

Try to keep a fun memory alive.  ~ Heidi McBain, LMFT

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Licensed clinical social worker Hope Weiss also advises participating in traditions that remind you of your loved one:

 

“I loved to visit the holiday lights with my mother both as a child and as an adult. When I now drive around looking at these lights, it brings up all of those warm childhood memories of sitting in the back of the car looking at those lights.”

 

Ways to Keep Their Spirit Alive for the Holidays

  • Decorate in their favorite colors.
  • Play their favorite holiday songs.
  • Prepare their favorite holiday dishes.
  • Tell stories about them.
  • Include them in your holiday traditions.
  • Display pictures of them prominently.
  • Light a candle in their memory.

 

No matter how you choose to honor your loved one this holiday season, know that they will always be with you in spirit.

 

How to Lean Into the Support of Others

If you’re grieving this holiday season, it’s important to lean into the support of others. Associate marriage and family therapist Theodora Blanchfield notes that it’s important to let people know when you are struggling and what might be a trigger for you.

 

“For example, last year, I was on a group text with two of my best friends, and they were excitedly talking about Christmas movies, which I just can’t handle anymore,” says Blanchfield. “Every time I picked up my phone and saw these texts, I felt like I was being stabbed in the heart by a tiny sword. I asked them if they wouldn’t mind moving their Christmas movie talk to another text because it was hard for me.”

 

Here are some other ways to lean into the support of others:

 

  • Seek out a grief support group. This can be a great way to connect with others who understand what you’re going through.
  • Talk to a therapist. If you’re struggling to cope, talking to a professional can be very helpful.
  • Spend time with supportive family and friends. Surround yourself with people who will make you feel loved and supported.
  • Get involved in your community. Volunteering or other activities can help take your mind off of your grief and make you feel good about helping others.

 

No one should have to deal with grief alone. There is plenty of support available, so don’t be afraid to reach out for help.

 

Tips to Process Grief During the Holidays

Grief can be difficult to deal with at any time, but it can be especially hard during the holidays.

 

Blanchfield notes that your feelings are valid and to expect that they may be unpredictable: “It’s OK if the holidays feel totally fine, and it’s OK if you want to hide under a blanket until January. The hardest thing is not knowing which one it’s going to be or when a grief attack is going to hit.”

 

Here are some tips to help you move through and process your grief during the holidays:

 

  • Acknowledge your grief. It’s OK to feel sad during the holidays. Don’t try to bottle up your emotions or pretend everything is OK when it’s not. A study published in Psychosomatic Medicine found that people who suppressed their grief experienced more health problems.
  • Talk about your loved one. Keeping their memory alive can be a source of comfort. Writing in a grief journal can be another way to process your grief.
  • Talk to someone who understands. If you’re struggling to cope with your grief, talking to a friend or family member who has been through a similar experience can be helpful.
  • Take things one day at a time. Grief is a process, and it takes time. Don’t try to rush it.
  • Take care of yourself. Be sure to take care of your physical and emotional needs during this time. Eat healthy meals, get plenty of rest, and find ways to relax and de-stress.
  • Do what feels right for you. There is no right or wrong way to deal with grief. Do what feels most comfortable for you, whether spending time alone or being around other people.

 

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It’s OK if the holidays feel totally fine, and it’s OK if you want to hide under a blanket until January.

he hardest thing is not knowing which one it’s going to be or when a grief attack is going to hit.

~ Theodora Blanchfield, AMFT | Understanding Grief in the Age of the COVID-19 Pandemic

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A Word From Verywell

No one experiences grief in exactly the same way, so there is no “right” way to grieve. Do what feels right for you and know that there is no timeline for healing. If you’re struggling with grief this holiday season, know that you’re not alone. There are people and resources available to help you through this tough time.

 

source:  https://www.verywellmind.com/holiday-grief-how-to-cope-with-loss-during-a-joyous-time-6503042

 


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To access your AWP EAP services, call 1-800-343-3822.  Your EAP is here to help with family, work, health and legal issues.  EAP Services are provided at no cost and are 100% confidential.

 

Alliance Work Partners is a professional service of Workers Assistance Program, Inc.
Copyright © 2022 Workers Assistance Program, Inc.

 




awplogoprimary1  
Here for you as life happens …

To access your AWP EAP services, call 1-800-343-3822.  Your EAP is here to help with family, work, health and legal issues.  EAP Services are provided at no cost and are 100% confidential.

Alliance Work Partners is a professional service of Workers Assistance Program, Inc. Copyright © 2024 Workers Assistance Program, Inc.

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