Grief and the Holidays

The holiday season can be challenging for many individuals, especially if you are grieving.

The absence of your loved one can be difficult to deal with during this time. Reflecting on past holiday memories can bring you happiness and pain, and thinking about what the holidays would have been like if your loved one were here can also be tough. But please remember that sometimes the anxiety building up to the holidays is much worse than the actual day.

There’s no perfect plan for those grieving during the holidays, as grief is so unique for each of us, but there are ways to make it feel less painful. The key to getting through the holidays is to do what makes you feel comfortable. Plan to spend the holiday time with people you can share your feelings with and who support you. Be honest about your grief; letting others know what you need is crucial.

Do what brings you comfort for the holidays. If you feel uneasy about an invitation, be honest with the hosts and let them know why you’re not attending, or have a backup plan if you do go and need to leave. During the holiday season, try not to isolate yourself from everyone; having a close friend visit with you may be helpful.

A popular idea through the years has been creating a memory stocking full of handwritten memories of your loved one. Write some yourself and have other family members write some too, then read through them during the holidays and share them with others. Other ideas could be decorating a special tree just for your loved one with trinkets, photos or other memories. Buying a present for your loved one and keeping it or donating it can also help with your grief.

Volunteering at a local shelter or soup kitchen or helping a needy family may bring you comfort because you are lending a helping hand to others. Most importantly, lean on your faith and strengths during this holiday season.

Jess Roschen is a bereavement counselor at Carroll Hospice.

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