The holiday season is a time of joy and celebration for many, but it can also be a difficult time for those who have experienced loss. Recent loss or past loss, divorce, or family estrangement can all result in similar feelings of sadness around the holidays. The reminders of loved ones who have passed away can make the season especially challenging. However, there are strategies that have been shown to be helpful for folks experiencing a tough time over the holidays.

1) The first strategy is to acknowledge and accept the grief. It is important to allow oneself to feel the emotions associated with loss and not try to suppress them. This can be done through journaling, talking to a trusted friend or therapist, or participating in a support group.

2) The second strategy is to plan ahead. This can involve deciding which holiday events to attend, setting boundaries with family members or friends, and creating new traditions that honor the memory of the loved one who has passed away. We lost a beloved family member a couple of years ago and we had a tree ornament made with their name on it, that ornament provides both comfort and a twinge of sadness but it keeps his memory alive.

3) The third strategy is to practice self-care. This can include getting enough sleep, eating healthily, exercising, and taking time for oneself to relax and recharge. Often we forget the basics when we are busy or grieving, but these actions make a significant difference in our ability to cope with stress and maintain mental health.

4) The fourth strategy is to seek support from others. This can be done by reaching out to friends or family members, participating in a grief support group, or seeking the help of a mental health professional.

5) The fifth strategy is to find ways to give back. Helping others can be a way to honor the memory of the loved one who has passed away and bring a sense of purpose and meaning to the holiday season.

It is important to prioritize one’s mental health during the holiday season. By acknowledging and accepting grief, planning ahead, practicing self-care, seeking support, and finding ways to give back, individuals can navigate the holiday season with grief optimally.

If you’re ready to talk to a therapist, please reach out. We offer free 20 minute consultation appointments to new clients. We offer online appointments and we also see clients in our beautiful modern office in South Surrey British Columbia (201-15350 Croydon Dr). We look forward to speaking with you.

References

Currier, J. M., Holland, J. M., & Neimeyer, R. A. (2012). Sense-making, grief, and the experience of violent loss: Toward a mediational model. Death Studies, 36(6), 521-540.

Lobb, E. A., Kristjanson, L. J., Aoun, S. M., Monterosso, L., & Halkett, G. K. (2010). Predictors of complicated grief: A systematic review of empirical studies. Death Studies, 34(8), 673-698.

Shear, M. K., Ghesquiere, A., & Glickman, K. (2013). Bereavement and complicated grief. Current Psychiatry Reports, 15(11), 1-9.

Stroebe, M., Schut, H., & Stroebe, W. (2010). Health outcomes of bereavement. The Lancet, 375(9724), 1960-1973.