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Blue Christmas: Grief During the Holiday Season

by Laura Dickman, BSW Intern

Holidays are a time of joy and cheer spent with those you love. However, for families that have lost loved ones it is also a time of year of remembrance and overwhelming feelings even. One important note made by professionals about grieving during the holidays is that there is not a “right way” to grieve or feel those feelings you may have.

It is important to remember this as we transition into the holiday season because there is a lot of idealism around forming the perfect Christmas memories. However, there is actually no pressure to do this and the only person making you feel you need a perfect holiday may be only you. Holidays come every year and we will each have countless holidays in our lifetimes. It is okay to take a break or a pause from holidays for a year if you feel it is too much for you to take on when considering your well-being.

According to the website “Love to Know”, there are several tips for getting through the holidays while grieving:

Hold memories of service

  • Singing a few special holiday songs

  • Light a candle in memory of a loved one

  • Hold a moment of silence

  • Hold a religious gathering in memory of a loved one

Create New Family Traditions

  • Put up a stocking with the person’s name on it

  • Place flowers/ toys at a child’s headrest

  • Make a toy donation in his/ her name

  • Buy a special ornament to add to your tree

Take a year off

  • It is okay to not do things regularly the first year(s)

  • Take long walks

  • Spend time with someone who would be alone for the holidays

  • Give to causes your loved one cherished

The Psychology Group on Youtube suggests in “How to Cope with Grief During the Holidays”:

Set boundaries for yourself

  • Understand you can opt out of events or stay for only part of the time at the event

Tune into your emotions

  • It is important to acknowledge feelings

  • It is okay to feel happy or sad

  • Be aware of how numbing with substances would affect you

Plan ahead

  • Avoid certain feelings of uncomfortability by planning ahead and possibly making changes to the schedule of regular holiday events

Create new traditions

Identify coping skills

  • What can you use at dinner or out with a friend to cope with triggers?

Ask for help

  • It is always okay and even encouraged to ask for help during these challenging times

  • Do not be afraid to seek professional mental help if you are feeling too overwhelmed by these challenging feelings.

Overall, there are several key tools you can use during the holidays to cope with grieving. Clinicians at Graceful Therapy LLC encourage you to seek professional mental help if you are feeling you may need additional support during the holidays.

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