7 Tips for Managing Grief During the Holidays

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Katie Donahoo

The holidays can be a difficult time for those who are grieving the loss of a loved one. The traditions and celebrations that are meant to bring joy can also bring reminders of what has been lost and can be a painful experience. It’s important to remember that grief is a natural and necessary part of the healing process and it’s okay to feel a range of emotions during the holidays. Here are some tips for managing grief during the holidays:

  1. Acknowledge and accept your feelings: It’s normal to feel a mix of emotions during the holidays, including sadness, anger, guilt, and loneliness. Allow yourself to feel these emotions and try not to judge yourself for them. It’s okay to take a break from holiday activities and allow yourself time to process your feelings.
  2. Reach out for support: Grief can be a very isolating experience, so it’s important to reach out to friends and family for support during the holidays. It can be helpful to talk about your loved one and the memories you shared with them. You can also seek support from a grief counselor or support group.
  3. Modify holiday traditions: The holidays can bring reminders of the loved one who is no longer with you. It’s okay to modify or skip traditions that are too difficult to participate in. It’s also okay to create new traditions that honor your loved one’s memory.
  4. Take care of yourself: Grief can be physically and emotionally draining, so it’s important to take care of yourself during the holidays. Make sure to get enough sleep, eat well, and engage in activities that bring you joy and relaxation. It’s also important to set boundaries and say no to obligations that may be too overwhelming.
  5. Find ways to remember your loved one: The holidays can be a time to remember and honor the loved one who is no longer with you. You can create a memorial or do something special in their memory. You can also share stories and memories with others.
  6. Be kind to yourself: It’s important to remember that grief is a process and it takes time to heal. Be patient with yourself and allow yourself the time and space to feel your emotions.
  7. Seek professional help if needed: If you are struggling to manage your grief during the holidays, it may be helpful to seek the support of a mental health professional. A therapist can provide a safe and supportive space to process your feelings and help you cope with the holiday season.

Grief during the holidays can be a difficult experience, but it’s important to remember that it’s a natural part of the healing process. By acknowledging and accepting your feelings, reaching out for support, modifying holiday traditions, taking care of yourself, finding ways to remember your loved one, and being kind to yourself, you can navigate the holiday season with grace and find ways to honor the memory of your loved one.


The 5 Stages of Grief and How To Cope with Loss

by: Katie Donahoo

Grief is not an emotion, it is a response to loss. When we lose someone or something we experience grief, which includes many emotions. The Kubler-Ross model, The 5 Stages of Grief, is a framework for the different emotions one experiences as they process a loss. The 5 stages of grief are not linear, meaning they do not necessarily progress from stage 1 to stage 2, etc. The stages are fluid and a person experiencing grief will ebb and flow through the stages, sometimes repeating stages, as they heal.

The 5 Stages of Grief

Denial – During this stage of grief people often feel disbelief about the loss that just occurred. They may feel numb or experience a surreal feeling. Thoughts like, “This can’t be happening.” may fill their minds.

Anger – During this stage the person grieving may experience anger towards themself, others, or the deceased (if there was a death). Resentments at self or others may be experienced in this stage. Thoughts such as, “Why is this happening to me?” are common.

Bargaining – During this stage a person may try to do whatever they can to either prevent an impending loss or get back what they have lost. Valiant efforts to find cures or re-establish relationships may occur. Thoughts of “I will do anything to change this.” mark this stage.

Depression – Overwhelming sadness is the hallmark of the depression stage. Crying, avoidance, and isolation may be seen in this stage. Thoughts of “What’s the point of going on?” may be had. This stage is often what people assume grief looks like. If this stage lasts for a long period of time or is more intense than the others it can be cause for concern. Often, once a person has experienced the depression stage they are able to move into acceptance immediately following.

Acceptance – In this stage a person has come to accept the loss as a fact and realizes they will be able to move forward, even if it’s difficult. Thoughts like, “I know it happened. I can’t change it. I need to cope now.” occur in this stage.

A person may find themselves angry one day, depressed the next, and trying to bargain the following. A person may get to acceptance within a month following a loss and six months later find themself in a depressed stage again. There is no ‘right way’ to grieve or experience the stages.

Helpful tips for coping with and processing through grief include:

*Rituals – participate in memorials, funerals, and other intentional activities to honor the loss.

*Emotional Acceptance – allow yourself to feel your emotions without stuffing them. Have a good cry or scream out loud, whatever you need to get the emotions out of you.

*Talk About It – when you can, find a loved one or trusted friend with whom to talk about your loss. Share how it has effect you and how you are feeling.

*Letter to the Lost – write a ‘goodbye’ letter to the person or thing you have lost sharing how the loss has impacted you and how you feel about going on without it/them.

While there is no official timeline for grieving, it is important to process your grief to avoid prolonged suffering or trauma. Should your symptoms be intense and last longer than 3 months OR if your symptoms are mild to moderate and last more than 6 months please seek professional help.

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