Grief and the Holidays: How to Cope

No matter what time of year it is, there is always a reason to celebrate. Holidays, graduations, anniversaries and birthdays are all great reasons to spend time with family and friends, honor traditions, and appreciate loved ones. But for those who have suffered a loss, grief is often an unwanted companion. If you are experiencing grief and find it difficult to find joy in things that once made you happy, don’t lose hope. Here are some tips on how you can better manage grief during the holidays and other celebratory events.

Take the Time to Grieve

Grieving is a part of healing, and it’s okay to grieve for as long as you need. Avoiding grief only prolongs it and will not help you get on with your life. If you’ve suffered a loss, allow yourself time to grieve. It’s completely normal and expected, and you are allowed to feel a whirlwind of emotions when it happens. Additionally, avoid things that make you numb from the grief (such as alcohol). It will not solve the problem or take away the grief permanently.

Set Boundaries

If participating in certain holiday activities is too burdensome and brings back painful memories, it’s okay to not attend. Don’t force yourself to participate in activities that are emotionally painful for you. While you shouldn’t avoid the holidays or celebrations completely, pick and choose activities you can participate in safely and avoid the ones that will be more difficult to cope with. This will require you to plan ahead and make accommodations (sometimes last minute). Maybe you can’t attend a family event that’s tradition but can meet up with family members for a lunch on another day. Understand that you are a priority and don’t force yourself to suffer in order to please loved ones. It’s okay to say no when it’s beneficial for your wellbeing; they will understand.

Create New Traditions

Another thing that can help you cope with the holidays is creating new traditions. If you had strong and memorable traditions that you can no longer enjoy without that loved one in your life, it’s time to create new ones. Be creative and don’t be afraid of change. Talk with your loved ones about this and make up traditions that make everyone happy. Changing things up and participating in new holiday traditions will not tarnish the wonderful memories you have.

Incorporate Memories into Your Holiday Plan

Sometimes, incorporating your grieving into your holiday plans can not only celebrate the memory of your loved one, but can help with your grieving process and acceptance of your loss. Preparing your loved one’s favorite meal, reflecting on stories and looking through photo albums, or carrying on traditions like listening to records or watching an annual football game or movie often can evoke lovely memories while keep your loved one’s memory alive.

Find Help When You Need It

Don’t be afraid to seek out help when you find yourself struggling during the holidays. This means telling your loved ones that you need time, space, or something else when you need it. It also means seeking professional help when you feel you cannot manage your emotional health on your own. Emotional health is just as important as your physical health. Talk to a psychiatrist or mental health professional who is trained to help you deal with grief and loss. This will help you take control of your emotional health.

If you need help grieving a loss or are searching for a trustworthy and reliable psychiatrist to help with your needs, visit Psy-Visions. Instead of cookie-cutter care, they offer comprehensive and patient-tailored care for each patient they see. Call 203-405-1745 to make an appointment today.

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