Dealing with Grief During the Holidays

by Larry McElvain

Yes, the holidays are a time of joy, but they can also be a time of profound sadness and grief for those who have lost loved ones recently. The holidays accentuate the loss and the emptiness one might feel with their loved one missing the family times around the tree or at the bountiful Christmas meal or those planned shopping sprees, or picking out that special gift for them. When you go to the store to shop for others, it seems all you can see or find are things that would have delighted the heart of your loved one.

Grief is a Privilege

These are totally normal reactions, ones that one should not be ashamed of. The fact that one grieves and misses their loved ones is a testament to the fact of how much they loved. Grief when we lose someone is not only a necessity but it is also a privilege. Do not let anyone rob you of your grief. However, you do need to take responsibility for your grief.

To address grief during the holidays, one has to remember they are not alone, nor does your love end with the death of your loved one. While society will encourage you to join in with the festivities, every sound, smell, sight, etc., may further trigger your feelings of loss. Although, there are no simple guidelines of how to address and take away your hurt, here are a few things you can do to help yourself in a healthy manner to grief positively during the holidays.

A Few Things You Can Do

First of all, you need to talk about your grief. Ignoring and not talking about your grief will not take it away. You need to find and talk with supportive and caring family members and friends who will encourage you to be yourself and accept your feelings—both the happy and sad feelings. You need to use the name of your loved one who has died.

It will not be unusual for you to feel tired or experience low energy at this time, but you need to be tolerant and respectful of your physical as well as your psychological limits. Many well-meaning friends may often try to tell you what is best for you and make plans for you and try to keep you very busy. You do not need unnecessary stress at this time, nor do you need to isolate yourself. So, allow special time for yourself, but also plan in some meaningful activities and times with others. This means planning ahead for family gatherings. With this structure in your holiday season, you will better be able to anticipate these activities vs. being caught off guard and possibly just reacting. When we get caught off guard, we can become anxious and even experience panic attacks. Take control.

Embrace Memories

This is a great time to embrace memories. Many memories will bring a smile to your face and a laugh to your soul while others will bring a tear to your eye, but remember memories that were made in love, no one can ever take them away from you. This is a time to also enumerate the positive things in your life.

Remember, talk about your loved one, surround yourself with loving and caring people who will allow you to be yourself, plan your holiday activities, and embrace the memories