Coping with Loss During the Holidays: Strategies for Healing

The holiday season is often associated with joy, celebration, and togetherness. But for those who have experienced loss, whether it's the death of a loved one, a divorce, or another major life change, this time of year can be incredibly challenging. During the holidays we can be super sensitive to grief, as it magnifies the absence of those we've lost. However, there are coping mechanisms and strategies that can help us navigate this difficult time and find moments of healing and even happiness.

1. Acknowledge Your Feelings

The first step in coping with loss during the holidays is to acknowledge your feelings. It's perfectly normal to feel sadness, anger, or even guilt during this time. Don't suppress your emotions; instead, allow yourself to grieve. Create a safe space where you can express your feelings, whether it's through journaling, talking to a friend or therapist, or simply allowing yourself to cry when needed. My maternal grandmother whose birthday is a few days before Thanksgiving passed away over 2 years ago and I still have moments of overwhelming emotions and I don't fight it. I take deep breaths and allow it to come.

2. Create New Traditions

Traditions can be a source of both comfort and pain during the holidays. If certain traditions are too painful to continue without your loved one, consider creating new ones. This could be as simple as lighting a candle in their memory, volunteering in their honor, or starting a new holiday decoration or recipe tradition. These new rituals can help you feel connected to your loved one in a different way.

 3. Lean on Your Village

 Don't hesitate to lean on your village during this time. Friends and family can provide a listening ear, a shoulder to cry on, or simply a comforting presence. Communicate your needs and let them know how they can support you. Remember that you don't have to go through this alone.

4. Practice Self-Care

Self-care is essential when coping with loss during the holidays. Take time to prioritize your physical and emotional well-being. This can include activities like meditation, exercise, maintaining a healthy diet, and getting enough rest. The better you care for yourself, the better equipped you'll be to manage your grief.

5. Set Realistic Expectations

It's crucial to set realistic expectations for yourself during the holiday season. Understand that it's okay to decline invitations or simplify your celebrations if they feel overwhelming. Prioritize what truly matters to you and let go of unnecessary stress. It's about YOU! Not the expectations society or others have you and what you should do.

6. Connect with Others Who Understand

Sometimes, it's helpful to connect with others who are going through similar experiences. Grief support groups or online communities can offer a sense of understanding and solidarity. Sharing your thoughts and feelings with those who have faced similar loss can be incredibly comforting.

7. Honor and Remember

Take time to honor and remember your loved one during the holidays. This might involve creating a memory box, making a donation to a charity in their name, or writing a letter to them. Finding meaningful ways to keep their memory alive can be a healing experience. I often speak out to my grandmother. I'm also fortunate to have some of her remains with me. She wanted to be cremated and I have her in a tiny urn and in a necklace. That necklace goes everywhere with me! As I travel the world & experience new adventures, she's with me. It was her taking us on little nearby road trips that grew my hungry & curiosity to travel. 

Coping with loss during the holidays can be challenging.   Be kind to yourself and allow yourself to experience the full range of emotions that come with loss.

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