10 Tips for Handling Grief During the Holidays

The holiday season can evoke sadness or depression for anyone in the midst of grief or loss. Here are some suggestions for handling grief during the holidays, getting through them in spite of it all.

1. Anticipate “moments.” Christmas music in stores can trigger sadness when your heart is heavy (earplugs don’t help much). At home, choose your own music or let there be silence.

2. Be flexible. Plan time with family or friends but don’t over schedule. If you need to cancel, do it. Be self-supporting. After my son’s death, my mantra was, “I can get through this day.”

3. Support yourself. Too much merriment might not fit this year. Set aside “alone” time when or if you need it, without guilt. If someone tries to impose guilt on you, refuse to participate.

4. Things are different. Things will feel different because they are. Asking “why” can be self-defeating and bring up unanswerable questions. Consider how you can adjust to this new normal with as much support and self-care as possible. Be gentle with yourself.

5. Make a gratitude list. Write down what still matters to you, what you feel grateful for. Keep your list handy; add to it and read it often, especially in the morning or at bedtime.

6. Help someone who needs it. If you’re up to it, do a good deed for someone to get you outside of your grief, reinforce your gratitude, and remind you that you’re not alone.

7. Trust your instincts. The first year following a loss is tough. As one woman said, “In time, things aren’t necessarily easier but they are less hard.” If you need sentimental time, take it. Write a letter to yourself or a loved one. Pay attention to what your inner voice tells you.

8. Take good care of your mind, body, and spirit. Try to sleep. Walking can help, especially in a quiet place. Listen to relaxing music. Read what brings you solace or peace. Add any healthy self-nurturing practice that’s comforting. Pray. Meditate. Write. Journal. Sing. Dance.

9. Make a ritual. A friend kept her deceased pet’s bowl in the kitchen for several months as a remembrance. A family whose father died in the fall lit candles daily during the holidays. Some military families hang a symbol or ornament representing a deployed child or sibling. Some families have a place setting at the table with a photo of their loved one. Do whatever works to handle grief during the holidays.

10. Maintain your faith. The words “time heals” sound like a cliché when you are deep in the throes of grief and loss. But passing time is a merciful salve, please trust that it will do its work.

517.253.8918   Box 956, East Lansing MI 48826.  Web: LeslieCharles.com Feel free to share…

© 2019. Compliments of C. Leslie Charles, speaker, author of All Is Not Lost: The healing journey through crisis, grief and loss.