“To every thing there is a season and a time to every purpose under heaven.” - Ecclesiastes 3:1

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Coping with Grief During the Holidays

A woman looks out a window pensively during Christmas.

The holiday season is in full swing—cue the Christmas music, festive lights and candy canes. Most people view this as a happy time of year, but holidays after the loss of a parent or loved one can be painful. 

This year, holiday festivities may be different for you due to COVID-19. Many people will not be gathering with family or traveling. If you’re grieving a loss, physical distancing and isolation from family can make this time of year even more challenging. 

Tips to Cope with Grief

Getting through the holidays after a loss is never easy. It’s important to understand your limits and find ways to cope. The following are several tips to cope with grief this time of year. 

Set Boundaries for Yourself

With Christmas right around the corner, you may not want to celebrate how you usually do or celebrate at all. Whatever you choose to do is OK. There is no “right” way to move forward. 

You get to decide what holiday activities you participate in this year. If your usual celebrations make you feel upset or sad, you don’t have to go through with them. On the other hand, you don’t have to do anything differently, either, if following what you usually do makes you feel better. 

Family members will likely ask you if you’re dropping by or invite you to the family Zoom party. Be gentle with yourself and put your needs first. Focus on the things you can control, like your holiday itinerary. 

Have A Plan

Dreading certain events or traditions? Planning ahead can help you feel prepared to face those situations. Anticipating what will happen or how something will make you feel can cause you unnecessary distress. 

Think through your holiday scenarios and communicate your needs to your loved ones. Are you planning to see a small group of family? Let the host know you may slip away early beforehand, so you can leave without announcing it to everyone there. 

Having a Plan B can be comforting, too. If you don’t feel like going through with Plan A, have something ready for you to do as a backup. Instead of going to family dinner, you could watch your favorite movie or visit a place that was special to you and your loved one.

Embrace Your Emotions

Be honest with yourself and how you feel. Grief often takes center stage during the holidays. It’s OK to let it. Don’t try to avoid or bottle up your feelings. Allow yourself to feel them. 

There’s no need to feel guilty for feeling a mixture of emotions. The holidays can make you feel happy even though you are grieving a loss. You may miss someone terribly but still be able to enjoy parts of the holiday season. 

Create New Traditions

Some may seek the comfort of long-standing traditions. Others may not be ready to pursue traditions they once shared with their loved ones. Going through the usual motions may be too painful. You can use this time to create new traditions with your immediate family, friends or yourself. 

Doing something new—even if it’s a celebration on your own—will help you avoid letting the holidays pass by entirely.

Honor Your Loved One

Do something to acknowledge your loved one. When you set aside time to honor who you’ve lost, you will feel more comfortable enjoying other holiday activities. Here are some ways you could honor your loved one:

  • Light a candle
  • Make an ornament
  • Look through a photo album
  • Watch a holiday movie they liked
  • Say a prayer about them
  • Write a letter to them
  • Make a list of things you loved about them

Lean on Your Faith

Faith is a source of solace at all times in our lives, but especially while we grieve. You may find comfort in reading spiritual texts, attending a religious service online or in person, or praying. 

God’s promise of Heaven and everlasting life can help you find peace with your loved one’s passing. Knowing that your loved one is with Jesus can help you feel comforted and connected to them. 

Reach Out to Others 

Seeking grief support is crucial to the healing process. Asking for help and sharing your feelings can be a huge relief. Talking about your loss and your experiences helps you feel like you’re not alone. You can talk to family members, join a support group, find an online grief chat room, or seek the help of a professional. 

At Seasons Hospice, your journey with our team doesn’t stop after your loved one passes away. We continue to show up for you however you need. We offer Seasons Hospice families and caregivers bereavement services for a minimum of 13 months.  

Contact Seasons Hospice today to learn more about the services we provide in Springfield, MO, and the surrounding areas. 

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Seasons Hospice is an independent community health care provider, not a large for-profit organization. We would not be able to offer our hospice services if we did not have the support of passionate community members who understand the importance of cost-free hospice care. To simplify the hospice process for patients and families, we rely on the generosity of our donors.