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Grief and the Holiday Season


The holiday season is “supposed to” be a time of happiness, family and friend get- togethers, and the season to be merry and jolly. For those grieving the loss of a loved one, the holidays may be an extremely difficult time of year.

Ways to cope this holiday season:

1. Find your own way to grieve. Some may want to be with family and friends(the familiar); some may want to take a trip and not be around the old sights and sounds. There is no right or wrong. It is about what is right or best for you.

2. Give yourself permission to feel whatever you are feeling. If you feel angry, go for a run or do some physical exercise. If you feel sad, let the tears flow. It is okay to cry.

3. Realize that the holidays will not be the same without your loved one physically there. If you do something different, that is okay and you can recognize the change while still honoring the past.

4. Take time for yourself if you feel like being alone. Try not to isolate yourself from the support of your family and friends. They love you and care about you.

5. Nourish your body with well-balanced meals. Drink a lot of water so you can keep your body hydrated.

6. Share your feelings with a friend, family member, counselor, or a support group. It is important to tell your story until you don’t want to tell it anymore.

7. Remember that others don’t always know what to say to you. You may need to tell them specifically what you want from them (a meal brought to the house, pick up milk for you at the store, to get out of the house and go for lunch together).

8. Volunteer or do something for others (Angel Tree on malls, charity basket for the holidays, serving food to others for the holidays at a soup kitchen/shelter, visit people in a nursing home). Helping others will help you feel better.

9. Donate to your favorite charity in memory of your loved one.

10. Remember that each person grieves at his/her own pace. You will make it through this holiday season.

11. If you feel some happiness that is okay. You are once again part of the living and that is good. You are putting one foot in front of the other to move forward. Sometimes it is two steps forward and one step back and vice-versa.

12. Going outside for a walk and being with nature may help you feel better.

13. Looking at photos of your loved one may help, or you may not be ready. Both are okay…it is about how you feel and what is best for you.

14. Attending religious services may be of great comfort to you. You may feel closer to G-d, or you may not feel that way because you are angry at G-d. Anger is a normal part of the grief process.

15. Your feelings of loss are often magnified during the holidays. It is normal and healthy to experience those feelings. You are keeping your loved one’s memory alive.

16. Take baby steps and in time your steps will get bigger and lighter…maybe not this holiday season…maybe next.

17. Light a candle in memory of your loved one.

18. Place a new Christmas ornament on the Christmas tree in memory of your loved one.

19. Write a letter to your loved one. You may share it with someone or not. You may keep the letter, or leave it at the grave site, or burn the letter in the fireplace and let the ashes rise symbolically.

20. Decorate the grave site or memorial site with a holiday theme. It is okay to remember and celebrate your loved one’s life.

21. Make a scrapbook of your loved one’s life.

22. Talk about your loved one. Remember all the happy, funny and special times. Share stories with others.


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