For many, a holiday season can be filled with joy, celebration, and festivities. However, in contrast for some who cope with grief and loss the festive atmosphere presents a unique challenge and can even exacerbate feelings of loneliness and isolation.
According to a recent blog on the topic social worker Cheryl Hughes shared that letting yourself feel and acknowledge all the emotions that often come with grief and grieving during a holiday season can be difficult when there is so much pressure to be joyful (Hughes, 2020). Hughes says recognizing this challenge can often help you and others affected feel less of that pressure to feel what others feel. Cheryl goes on to mention that grief is different for everyone, and some people may feel happy one minute and sad the next, but it is healthy to allow yourself to feel all the emotions.
Hughes also shares about the potential benefit of remembering our loved ones during holidays and few ways to do that (2020). Telling stories about them or writing them letters are a few examples of common activities of remembrance. Hughes notes that honoring a loved one may be a helpful activity during the grieving process (2020). However, as Hughes notes some people may just not be up for remembrance during holidays, which is also perfectly normal. Hughes believes that if you feel remembrance is right for you, you may benefit from incorporating remembrance into your holiday celebrations.
Another author, Devin Collins offers that if you feel overwhelmed or you simply cannot celebrate you can set boundaries (Collins, 2021). While it is important not to isolate yourself entirely says Collins, you could benefit from trying not to feel pressured into every activity (2021). Devin says it’s important to try to listen to what your body is telling you and that you are free to leave a gathering at any point if it gets to be too much. Collins makes it a point to remind us that we do not need to attend every event we are invited to.
Grieving during the holiday season is a unique process for each person. Authors Hughes and Collins suggest that considering ways to feel and acknowledge your emotions, honor and remember loved ones and setting boundaries are just a few of the ways that could help you and others cope with grief and loss during a holiday season.
See below for links to the full source information and articles by Collins and Hughes.
Collins, D., & Collins, D. (2021, December 8). 7 tips for dealing with grief and loss during the Holidays. One Medical. https://www.onemedical.com/blog/healthy-living/7-tips-dealing-grief-and-loss-during-holidays/
Hughes, C. (2020, December 9). How to Deal With Grief Over the Holidays. MedStar Health. https://www.medstarhealth.org/blog/how-to-deal-with-grief-over-the-holidays”