Navigating Grief During the Holiday Season

The holiday season is a time to uphold cherished family traditions, which can be challenging if you are grieving the loss of a loved one. At every turn, you may find yourself encountering painful reminders of the person who’s missing from your life.

Holiday grief can be challenging and unpredictable. You can prepare for it by being realistic about how many responsibilities you can handle, asking for help when you need it and using the following tips.

1. Volunteer in Your Community

Fortunately, this time of year has no shortage of extra volunteer opportunities for you to take your mind off your holiday grief and help others who are less fortunate. Volunteering is good for your mental well-being because it makes you feel more connected and gives you the gratifying feeling called a “helper’s high.” Consider giving a charitable donation or gift in your loved one’s memory.

2. Use Self-Care as a Coping Strategy

Avoid using alcohol or drugs to numb your holiday grief. Instead, try to stay busy without getting overwhelmed with too many commitments. Make time for healthy activities like meditating, exercising and journaling. Buy yourself a holiday gift you’ve had your eye on, such as a new pair of fuzzy slippers or an aromatherapy candle.

3. Don’t Isolate Yourself

It’s OK to politely decline some invitations, but remember that being alone during this time of year can add to your holiday grief. Enjoying seasonal activities such as decorating cookies or looking at lights does not mean you have forgotten your loved one.

4. Create New Holiday Traditions

The holidays can be an especially painful reminder that your loved one is no longer with you. Consider making a fresh start if it seems too hard to celebrate the holiday season the way you used to. Talk to your family about what activities you want to include and leave out. You may need to compromise if some people find comfort in familiar patterns that make you feel triggered.

5. Set Boundaries

Nobody said the holiday season has to be perfect. If you start feeling overwhelmed, decide what obligations you can let go of. You can also start mentally preparing for what you will do after the new year begins to recharge from the emotional intensity of the past several months. Some people struggle with seasonal depression when the whirlwind of the holiday season ends. Learning how to recognize and manage these symptoms can help you ring in 2023 on a more optimistic note.

Dealing With Holiday Grief

In recent years, thousands of Americans have lost loved ones to COVID-19, cancer, heart disease and other causes, leading people to find new ways to cope with the sorrow and heartache. Honoring your loved one’s memory can be a positive outlet for holiday grief, but abusing alcohol and drugs is not.

At Cumberland Heights, we have identified common trait among people who enter our Tennessee addiction treatment center – often, they are experiencing complicated grief. We offer evidence-based interventions to address the causes of complicated grief and allow you to move forward with your life. Contact us today to request help and speak to someone who cares.