The holidays can be notoriously challenging for anyone who has lost a loved one in their lifetime. Those who are processing grief after a close one’s death are probably dreading the holidays, as it’s usually a joyous time reserved for spending time with family members and friends. The holidays can also bring up painful feelings of longing and regret for those grieving, and witnessing other’s happiness may cause anger, resentment, sadness, and pain – as well as feelings of isolation and loneliness, especially if you typically enjoy indulging in holiday traditions. However, there are ways to cope with the holiday grief and to feel supported, uplifted, and cherished through the holiday season. Here are some low-lift ways to cope with the complex feeling of loss during the holiday season.
For those who are experiencing grief this holiday season:
Think about seeking a grief support group: Joining a support group with others who have experienced grief can be a great way to connect with others who understand what you’re going through.
Acknowledge your feelings: Sitting with your grief can be a complicated process, but it’s necessary to confront your pain with the hope of taking steps in your healing process.
Speak to a therapist: If you’re struggling to cope, talking to a professional can be very helpful.
Spend time with supportive family and friends. Surround yourself with people who will make you feel loved, supported, and not judged.
Get involved in your community: Volunteering or other activities, helping others in need, can help take your mind off your grief and make you feel good.
Keep your loved ones’ spirit alive during the holidays: Decorate in their favorite colors or decorations. You can also play their favorite holiday songs, prepare their beloved dishes, look at old photos of them, and listen to recordings.
Here’s how to interact with someone who is grieving loved ones:
Acknowledge their loss. It’s perfectly fine to say something to them about what happened. Avoid phrases like “at least,” “it was for the best,” or “they are at peace now.”
Be an active listener. Let them talk about their loved ones and their grief. Avoid giving advice or telling them how they should feel.
Sit in their grief with them: Sometimes, it’s best not to do or say anything when a person is grieving. Allow them to feel their feelings.
Don’t tell them how to feel: Try not to dictate their feelings by telling them how they should feel. Instead, offer them a safe and soft space to land.
Offer actionable help: Instead of saying, “Let me know what you need help with,” roll up your sleeves and offer practical support, like running an errand, cooking a meal, cleaning up, providing an Uber Eats gift card, or inviting them out for a drink. These small but actionable acts of service will make their lives easier, as most of their thoughts are consumed with grief and balancing their lives outside of their loss.
Be patient and understanding: Grief is a lifelong process that doesn’t magically disappear overnight, as the person in your life who is grieving needs gentleness, understanding, and grace. It’s best to extend compassion and don’t judge their behavior or how they move through the grieving process.