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Grief During the Holidays

The holidays are a time that is busy for many, marked by travel, hectic schedules, and

spending time with loved ones. Holiday traditions are something that begin at a young age for

many and are a time to make long-lasting memories to reflect on and cherish. As time passes,

traditions change for both positive and negative reasons and can be challenging to navigate.

The past few years have brought new challenges, including COVID-19 and having to miss

opportunities to see family. One major obstacle that is difficult to manage during the holidays is

experiencing a loss. Loss can leave a void in one’s life, leading to grief and a lack of motivation

to celebrate the holiday season.

Grief is what occurs when someone experiences a significant loss in life. It can affect an

individual’s physical and mental health and lead to many emotions, including confusion, anger,

sadness, resentment, or feeling numb. Grief is something that everyone will experience at some

point in their life, whether it is the death of a family member, divorce, illness, or significant life

change. It is no small feat to overcome, and grief can leave a person feeling exhausted, lost, and wanting to isolate or avoid the holidays that were once a happy time. Although grief tends to lessen over time, there is not a set timeline for grief, as everyone experiences it differently.

As the holiday season is approaching, it is important to have a plan in place and to set appropriate boundaries for coping with a potentially difficult season. Some strategies that can be utilized during the holiday season include:

● Being mindful of how you are feeling and what you can handle. Setting appropriate boundaries for holiday events may be necessary.

● Planning ahead what the holidays will look like and what you can handle

Celebrating, such as honoring traditions and memories of loved ones.

● Don’t be afraid to reach out for support and help, if needed.

● Making new traditions can be healing for some.

● Having a “toolbox” of coping skills to deal with grief: journaling, support system/groups, utilizing relaxation techniques, participating in a hobby or fun activities, etc.

● Volunteering or giving back to the community.

● Don’t be afraid to skip the holidays if that is what you feel is best for where you are in the grieving process. It is important to remember everyone experiences grief differently.

● Focus on what you have and are grateful for.

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