Holiday Grief

Grief during the Holidays

The Holiday Season can be difficult if you’ve recently suffered a recent loss, as can be birthday’s (yours and the deceased), anniversaries, and other times of family celebration.

Here are a few suggestions for taking care of for yourself during these especially challenging times:

  • Don’t try to do everything. You may want to both observe the holiday festivities yet simultaneously feeling stressed or depressed about all the holiday hoopla. This is normal. Do what comforts you, but don’t feel like you need to have the same level of activity that you usually do.
  • Spend time with those you love—and allow yourself some private time. You and your family are experiencing this loss together, and can offer one another support. That said, there will be moments when you need some “down time,” time alone with your thoughts and your feelings.
  • Permit yourself to change your mind (often). The days and months after the loss of a loved one can be confusing, and your moods and emotions may swing back and forth. Something you want or need today may be insignificant tomorrow (and vice versa). Be patient with yourself.
  • Communicate your thoughts and feelings. This can be hard for some people, who may be accustomed—or even take pride—in “holding things in.” Navigating the loss of a loved one is challenging; you need to express your feelings and frustrations openly and honestly, so that those feelings can resolve. 
  • Get plenty of rest—and drink lots of water. Grief affects us physically as well as mentally. While not everyone grieves in the same way, the physical signs of grief can include memory loss, an inability to complete thought processes, diminished sensory experience, a lowered immune system, and feelings of being overwhelmed. Be sure to take care of your body, and don’t let yourself get too tired, too hungry, or too dehydrated.
  • You can’t overdo taking care of yourself. Many of us are very good at caring for others, but not so good at caring for ourselves. Just remember: before you can effectively and lovingly care for others in your family, you need to take care of yourself. Don’t stint on this—it’s an important part of the grief process.