Coping with Grief During the Holidays

We celebrate many holidays throughout one year. Each family has special and specific holidays filled with traditions and rituals. Our memories of these holidays often bring a sense of joy, comfort and belonging. When a loved one dies these memories may trigger grief reactions that can be overwhelming and bittersweet.

The first year after the death, you will experience and “live through” the firsts: birthdays, wedding anniversaries, and holidays. Below we offer tips and suggestions in managing and living through these “firsts”:

Recognize the holidays will be different this year.

Do what makes you comfortable, not what well-meaning friends or others think you should do.

Grief does not take a holiday, even with all the colorful and cheerful distractions.

Talk to your family and discuss how you will observe the holidays this year. Traditions can be very comforting. You may wish to continue to observe some family traditions and drop others. Consider a new tradition, in memory of your loved one.

Be prepared for a chain reaction of memories and emotions that may be triggered by a favorite song or cherished ornament.

Be kind to yourself. Grief brings on fatigue. Your physical and emotional resources are limited.

– Allow friends and family to help when they offer.

– Take time for yourself.

– Get plenty of rest.

– Set realistic goals for yourself, and reserve the right to change your mind at the last minute.

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