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5 Tips for Surviving the Holidays While Grieving

Mary-Lauren O’Crowley, NCC, LPC

Annie Roiphe once said, “Grief has two parts. First one is loss and the other is remaking of life.” These words ring true for the holiday season when grief and loss can lead to a complete overhaul of the longstanding traditions we once held so dear. Instead of connection, we may feel isolation. Instead of joy, we may feel defeat. 

It can be challenging to overcome these difficult emotions when there are sounds of holiday happiness all around. But no matter how difficult it may feel, you can and will get through it. For some, this may look like continuing to honor old traditions. For others, it may involve turning off the phone and hiding away from the world until the holiday has passed. Whatever feels right for you, do that- and maybe consider a few researched-back strategies to help you navigate the holiday season: 

1) Offer yourself some grace

  One of the best things that you can do in a time of grief or loss is to permit yourself to feel whatever it is that you are feeling. Try not to push yourself to feel a certain way or to do certain things so that you can make your holiday “normal” or “like it used to be.” If you are feeling sad then allow yourself to cry. If you are feeling angry, find a way to let off some steam. Just allow yourself to feel

2) Engage in TLC/self-care 

  It is very important that you are getting proper rest and nutrition. Do not take a burden that you cannot handle. If you need to be alone then do that. And if you are feeling to have some company, then go for it. Do whatever makes you feel fine during your difficult time.

3) Seek out support

  If you can find people whom you trust to confide in, this can be incredibly cathartic. One of the surest ways to process difficult feelings is by talking through them. Relatives and friends can prove to be a great support during times of grief. You can talk to them during your holidays. Another good option is a grief support group. You can find these groups online as well as at local community centers, funeral homes, and churches. 

4) Accept help from others

  This may sound the same as “seek out help,” but in fact, it is very different. Some of us have no problem asking others for help; however, many of us prefer to handle things ourselves. If you are one of these people, I urge you to consider accepting the help that loved ones are likely to offer during this time. You deserve the support of others to get through these feelings. So, stop thinking as if you are a burden to anyone. People generally feel satisfied by helping those they care about. 

After a death, many people want to help but do not know how to help. If someone offers to prepare meals, host you at their home, or simply give you a hug, you may want to consider that these efforts can help you feel even a little relief. 

5) Make a difference in the lives of others 

During the holiday season, a lot of people try to help each other in many different ways. Some purchase a gift for needy children, some donate to their favorite organization, while others drop some change into a charity basket. This makes allows them to feel a sense of connection by contributing to the greater good. Likewise, if you keep yourself busy in supporting others, it will help take your focus away from your loss. Studies have shown that volunteering can help in improving mental health. Consider volunteering at a local hospital, nursing home, children’s shelter, or soup chicken during your holiday. Helping others can also help you with your own healing process. 

If you or someone you know is struggling this holiday season, please reach out to the intake specialists at Symmetry Counseling today! 

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