Coping with Grief Over the Holidays

Finding Peace During a Difficult Time

Holiday celebrations, traditionally memorable for their joys and happiness, can be tough emotional sledding for those grieving the loss of a loved one. Experts counsel that acknowledging the fact that the holidays won’t be the same without the deceased is a first step toward being at peace with the activities unfolding around us.

Then, we need to decide what we can handle and how much responsibility we are willing to assume; this might mean letting others do the shopping or cooking. Getting enough rest is crucial; if we need time alone, we should honor that need.

It can help to create new traditions that include the deceased in a loving way. We might light a candle, display a photo or revisit photo albums of good times, thus including the life of our loved one in our conversations and celebrations. We could even hang a stocking in the name of the beloved for family and friends to stuff with notes, thereby sharing their feelings with us.

Holidays are not about “shoulds,” but about what’s comfortable and best for our family and us. If this is the first holiday without a loved one and celebrating seems impossible, we can instead celebrate winter, by engaging in a physical nature activity. Whatever we do, we can know that grieving is a necessary and healthy process and that healing is possible.

Adapted from, and

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