25 Nov 10 Tips for Coping with Grief During the Holidays
Holiday Grief Tip #1: Expect grief triggers.
Grief triggers can seem to be everywhere during the holidays. Anticipating triggers can make it easier to deal with them when they happen because you know they are coming and can accept them and manage them. Be prepared to regroup with triggers. Holiday disasters do happen. Sometimes this is out of our control and all we can do is move forward. Honestly, grieving can make for a tough holiday so cut yourself some slack. This holiday may not be like the ones you remember and long for again but remind yourself that there can still be moments of peace and comfort found with those you love.
Holiday Grief Tip #2: You are not alone.
We know while it can seem like many people are together during the holidays, the fact is that you aren’t the only one spending the holidays grieving. Just knowing that you’re not alone in your grief can help you feel connected to others through shared difficult experiences.
Holiday Grief Tip #3: Look for ways to be grateful.
Seeking gratitude can help us take the focus off our grief and help us notice all the positive things happening around us, rather than just the negative. While this may be a challenge, it can shift your focus onto something good rather than sad.
Holiday Grief Tip #4: Take breaks from the holiday “togetherness”.
Plan to get away from all the holiday togetherness when you need it. The many gatherings during the holidays can all seem too much when we are emotionally down and struggling. It’s important to allow yourself time and space to recharge your energy. You may feel a lot of pressure to participate in holiday events, but try to be aware of your limits and needs. Planning through your events in advance to take breaks from public get togethers can ease some of the pressure you may feel to participate in them.
Holiday Grief Tip #5: Listen to music.
Music can be so healing when it comes to grief. When you feel anxious, put on headphones and listen to a few songs. Find songs that calm you down. Create a playlist of uplifting and peaceful music. Amazon Music, Pandora and Spotify are all platforms that allow you to search for music and create playlists.
Holiday Grief Tip #6: Get outdoors.
Yes, we understand it can be cold outside here this time of year, but taking in fresh air can provide a change of setting and refresh your spirits. Also, sunlight boosts your serotonin, that wonderful neurotransmitter that regulates appetite, sleep, memory and mood.
Holiday Grief Tip #7: Create something to remember a loved one.
Using your creativity can help reduce stress and take your mind off your grief while allowing you to honor and remember your loved one. This could be through creating a photo album, picture shadow box, painting or sketch, collage that represents that person, or even a memory quilt. You can involve your friends and family in this project as well and share memories together of your loved one.
Holiday Grief Tip #8: Connect with others.
We understand that retreating into your shell and seeking solitude, can be the only thing you want to do when grieving but often connecting with others can boost your spirits. You can call friends or family and ask to be part of their holiday, or you can ask others who you know will be alone if they want to make plans. You might consider putting a call out on social media to see who else is grieving or alone during the holidays. It may provide some comfort. Things like Skype and Facetime can help you feel even more connected than just a phone call because you’re able to see one another.
Holiday Grief Tip #9: Volunteer.
Many organizations in our area need help over the holidays. Whether volunteering at a shelter or at a church or synagogue, this can be a generous way to give back, spend some time with others and connect to the true spirit of the holidays. It can also help you focus on others rather than grief.
Holiday Grief Tip #10: Host your own holiday event.
We know that this one might seem like a stressful idea to many of you! The last thing you may want to do is host a celebration when grieving, but for some it can be a welcome distraction. Consider hosting a pre- or post-holiday gathering to connect with people. Make it a potluck so there is no stress on you to create a menu and cook. Invite friends over for a casual movie-day, game-day or to make holiday decorations together.
We understand how hard the holidays can be when you’re grieving a loved one who has passed away. We hope these tips help in any way. For more resources, check out our list of local grief support groups.