Coping with Grief during the Holidays

As the holiday season approaches, we often think of the food, family gatherings and traditions that mark this time of the year. Many milestones and memories we share with our loved ones are created during the holidays, and it feels natural to want to spend time and celebrate the festivities with family members and close friends. However, when a family member, friend or loved one is no longer with us, this time of the year can be especially difficult, bringing feelings of sadness, loneliness and grief.

At Cypress HomeCare Solutions, we unfortunately face this reality with our aging clients, and we strive to find solutions for family members to cope with the grief of losing a loved one. Here are a few ideas to help with handling the holidays while grieving:

  • Plan in advance where and how you will spend your time during the holidays. Redefine expectations, and allow yourself to begin new traditions.
  • Give yourself permission to express your feelings and heal through emotions.
  • Contact family members and friends when you are especially missing your loved one, and share memories of times together.
  • Light a candle for your loved one at significant times throughout the holidays to signify the light of the love that lives in your heart.
  • Write an “un-sent” letter to your loved one and express how you are feeling toward them at this moment. Place it in a book, album or drawer in your home, leave it at a memorial site, throw it away or even burn it and let the ashes rise symbolically.
  • If within driving distance of memorial site, decorate with a holiday theme. This can be helpful in remembering and celebrating your loved one’s life during the holidays, and free you to cherish the present holiday season with remaining family and friends.
  • Play comforting and meaningful music. Take a few moments to close your eyes and feel the melody.
  • Give money you would have spent on gifts for your absent loved one to a charity in their name. Consider buying a present for a child who would otherwise not have a gift during the holidays.
  • Read a book or article on grief. Caring.com lists many resources to assist you through the holidays.

Remember, the anticipation of the holidays without that person is often harder than the holidays themselves. For our clients who have recently lost their spouse, a dear friend or loved one, there are ways their family members, friends and caregivers can help them during this difficult time. Actively listen and allow them to initiate discussion. If they want to talk about their grief, ask open ended questions and understand that “fixing” their “problem” may not be “their” solution. Act in kindness and care, and show your compassion and heart.

If you or your loved one is looking for solutions when grieving through the holidays, contact our trained solutions specialists at 602-264-8009 — we are here to help.

Information provided by Chris Willis, MSW, adapted from “Ten Ways to Cope with Holiday Greif” by L.B. Shultz, Carmel, Indiana.
Posted on November 15, 2012