Grieving During the Holidays (Tips to Manage)

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Grief can seem overwhelming enough, let alone during the holiday season. However, over the holiday season, grief can feel even more challenging. As warm memories flood back and are filled with reminders of the ones we’ve lost.

Grief can mean different things to different people; whether you’re suffering from a loss — a death, a breakup, or a significant life change — the holidays tend to magnify the loss we feel.

The grieving process is a natural one but can be a difficult time to manage during the holidays. To cope with grief during the holidays, the best thing to do is to remind yourself that you’re not alone; the holiday season can be difficult for many of us. You can even manage it by surrounding yourself with the ones you love, making plans to spend time with family and friends, and cherishing new memories.

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Below we’ve broken down the three C’s of grief and listed some ways to help you manage your grief during the holidays.

Nurse Next Door Caregiver and client in Santa hats

3 C’s of the Grieving Process

One of the best ways to cope with grief during the holidays is to practice the 3 C’s: choose, connect, and communicate.

  1. Choose: Choose your path and what is best for you! Even when your holiday grief feels totally consuming, remember you can choose how to react. Grief can often encompass the sense that we have no control over our choices and circumstances. Remember that it is alright to experience everything you feel and choose what you do over the holidays and what you can’t. Making choices will help you reinstate some of that loss of control you might feel.
  2. Connect: Grieving during the holidays intensifies emotions of loss and loneliness. The number one way to fight loneliness and isolation is to connect with the ones you love and spend time with others. Establish a support system that works for you, whether it is a family member or friend – surround yourself with your loved ones during the holidays to feel connected. If spending time with many people or attending holiday parties feels too much to take on – be honest with your loved ones. Honesty goes a long way in the grieving process.
  3. Communicate: It’s okay to tell your support system how you feel and put your needs out there. Grieving is a process; the only way to work through it is by communicating honestly. Communicating honestly means opening up and sharing your vulnerability with your people. Speaking openly with loved ones will also help you set boundaries and guide your family members and friends to aid you in your grieving process adequately. Talking honestly is one of the first steps to healing.

Caregiver and client with Santa hats

5 Tips to Help You Manage Grief During the Holiday Season

Holiday celebrations can intensify feelings of sadness, loneliness, and loss. Not everyone experiences grief the same, and there is no right or wrong way to manage your grief during the holidays. We’ve listed five tips to cope with your feelings of grief.

  1. Practice Self-Compassion

    Self-compassion means being kind, warm, and understanding toward ourselves when we suffer. Rather than ignoring our own pain, understand that grieving is natural and that coping at your own pace is okay.

    Be patient with yourself. If something doesn’t feel right, then don’t do it. You can cancel your holidays if that is what you need to do. If you want to attend that holiday dinner – go. Whatever you decide, remind yourself it is okay to make your own choices at your own pace.

    Laughing client and caregiver
  2. Practice Self-Care

    Self-care is a general term used to describe caring for your own body, mind, and well-being. It can mean various things to different people. Some might like to focus on their health and go to the gym, get enough sleep, or go to a yoga class – others may enjoy a warm bath. Whatever your self-care looks like, practice what makes you feel good. If you feel numb or sad, you can use self-care to cope. It can be challenging to practice self-care, but it is essential to dealing with grief during the holidays.

    Woman in Santa hat
  3. Remember Your Loved One with A New Tradition

    Whether your mom died, you lost a pet, or you are grieving the loss of a relationship – no grief is insignificant.

    Creating new memories does not erase old traditions and memories. You can create new holiday traditions to commemorate and honor the ones you lost. Remind yourself that your loved one would want you to enjoy this holiday season.

    Some ideas to share memories and new traditions could be lighting a candle in memory of the one you lost, remembering them by browsing through photo albums with the whole family, or placing a commemorative ornament on the Christmas tree. Whatever your new traditions look like – remember you do not need to feel guilty about making other holiday traditions and memories.

    Family during the holidays
  4. Surround Yourself With A Family Member or Loved One

    Surrounding yourself with loved ones during the holiday season goes a long way. It can be hard to be around people at first but don’t let yourself grieve alone; you can lean on others to help you if you want to avoid crowds; opt-out and attend smaller family gatherings instead. Be kind to yourself, socialize as you can, and connect on your own terms.

    If you cannot spend time with family and friends, try to avoid feeling isolated. Isolation can intensify feelings of grief, especially during the holiday season. Receive companionship as an alternative.

    Nurse Next Door recognizes that feeling lonely is one of the leading causes of depression and can ultimately heighten feelings of grief. Our goal is to reverse the effects of isolation and help you cope with grief at your own pace with companionship.

  5. Attend a Grief Support Group

    There are grief support groups that you can lean on to feel comfort, guidance, and support during the holidays. Check your local community centers, church organizations, mental health, and other health organizations offering group grief support. Connecting with others who are also grieving can give you a sense of mutual understanding and comfort.

    If you cannot attend grief support in person, there are various types of accessible online support groups. Online grief support groups are often conducted via virtual chat, Facebook groups, or video calls. Many online grief support groups are free, but some might charge for live individual and group sessions. Check out Healthline’s list of online grief support groups.

    Elderly woman in Santa hat
  6. Set Realistic Expectations

    Grieving during the holidays is never easy. Be realistic about what you can accomplish, what you’re capable of attending, and what you want out of the holiday season. Set realistic expectations for yourself and what you want from a specific family member you lean on and others in your support system. Setting boundaries can be beneficial in coping with grief.

    If this is the first holiday season that seems impossible, remind yourself that it can only get easier each year.

    Elderly man celebrating

It can affect your joy and holiday cheer when you deal with grief, especially with losing a loved one. Surround yourself with people you love to embrace the healing that bolsters you through the holiday season and beyond. May the holiday season bring peace, grief relief, and joy to you and your family.

From all of us at Nurse Next Door, we wish you warmth and happiness this holiday season!

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