Dealing with Grief and Loss During the Holidays

Walking through the holidays with grief and loss coming up for the first time, or first of many, is difficult for anybody. Coping with grief is not just making it through, it is about holding space for memories of the loved one when they were around to celebrate, and to honor their life, while still being present for the feelings of loss that emerge. No matter what holiday, the experience of losing a loved one, and celebrating the holidays, is difficult. Find some ways to manage expectations and remain open to what comes up so it is easier to deal with this time around. 


Be Realistic

Being realistic is more than just being open. It is about thinking through the holidays differently with loss. It means looking back at the tasks, experiences, and moments of the holidays and wanting to know which to continue with and learning to accept help from people if this year will be particularly difficult. It might mean rearranging where and when and how to shop this year to avoid triggering memories of the loved one. Creating space to grieve a loss is as much about finding hope as it is about keeping their memory alive while being realistic about expectations.


Don’t Become Isolated

Isolation is a person’s worst enemy around the holidays.  Sharing plans with others helps them feel included and part of the journey of grief. Memories can be comforting, not just distressing, for the bereaved. Share them by telling stories and looking at photo albums. In spite of the temptation, don’t seek to cancel all the holiday plans and not go anywhere or do anything that reminds everyone of that person. Grieve, but with purpose. Balance it with planned social activities to stay busy but leave room for quiet and rest as needed.


Give Back

Serving others and giving back is a positive way of practicing self-care in this difficult season. Try to avoid going full pace into the holidays. Even if that used to work, now may not be the right time. Offer permission to do fun things, be self-indulgent a little, but also give back to others and let that be an offering to others. 


Self Care

Nothing is better around the hustle and bustle of holidays than self-care. This might look like quiet space to grieve, being with good friends, going out to movies, getting a manicure, going for a hike, taking a boxing class, or any number of things that help people when they are walking through grief. Writing in a journal can be a good outlet for people, along with artsy and crafty things. Offer permission to buy something that is fun just because or go to the spa and indulge. After all, this is self-care time that is going to give back more than it takes away (time or energy). 


A big part of the holidays is tradition and ritual. It can be helpful to hold onto old traditions and rituals or find ways to release them and let them go. Create a memory box with notes from loved ones that are opened that time of year, light a candle in their memory, visit the cemetery, or find other means of celebrating their life. Let it all have meaning and find what works and what doesn’t. There is no right or wrong shape to create the holidays. Keep it simple but make it unique and something that feels right for right now. Next year it may look and feel different. For now, it is okay to feel all the feelings and know that in time it will get better, but it helps to plan ahead and find others to support the journey.


Diehl-Whittaker Funeral Service understands the challenge of loss around the holidays. There is never a timeline for death and no timeline for grief. We are here to help if you are struggling with how to best memorialize and celebrate your loved one’s life. Call us if you are ready to move forward with making preparations for a loved one’s celebration of life: (614) 258-9549

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