Grieving During the Holidays
The holidays can be a difficult time for anyone who has lost a loved one. And it can be challenging when trying to figure out how to get through grief during the holidays. However, there are ways to remember your loved ones to help ease your grief and help others who have lost loved ones.
How to Manage Grief Over the Holidays
Losing a loved one over the holiday season is heartbreaking. But, while everyone else is fussing over getting the perfect gift or ensuring they have all the best decorations up, the holiday season can leave the bereaved lonelier and sadder during what most consider the most wonderful time of the year.
It is important to understand that everyone grieves differently. Some people are perfectly able to celebrate the holidays to their fullest in honor of their lost loved ones, while others feel the need to scale back or skip them entirely. Both are acceptable ways of grieving, and showing more or less sadness does not relate to how much a person cared for those who have passed.
It is common and normal to feel more grief during the holiday season, especially the first one after the loved one’s passing, than during other times of the year.
- Recognize Things Are Different
The holidays will never be the same without your loved one, and it is often helpful to take that into account while making holiday plans. For example, certain traditions may be difficult to carry on without your loved one there. Planning to have someone else help carry on the tradition or change it ahead of time can make things much more manageable.
- Scale Back On Holiday Traditions
Grieving often makes holiday preparations difficult. If you frequently host holiday celebrations, consider taking a break this year and letting another friend or family member take charge. If sending cards becomes stressful, skip them.
Others will understand that this is a difficult time for you. If you feel that holiday parties may be overwhelming, be sure to have an easy way home or out of the situation.
- Spend Time With Friends and Family
Avoid cutting yourself off completely, as many times, family and friends are the best at helping you ease the pain of your loss. Friends and family can also help your prepare for the holidays by helping you focus and being emotional support. Grief counsel groups can also be a huge help since you can talk with people who know how it feels to be in your situation.
- Create a Small Memorial
Light a candle at home or in a place of worship, or create an ornament in their memory. Dedicate a box for small mementos. Sometimes putting a little time and effort to create a small space dedicated to your loved one can create an outlet for grief, allowing you to celebrate the holiday season while keeping your loved one close to your heart.
- Give Back This Season
If you see something while shopping your loved one would want, don’t be afraid to buy it and donate it. Volunteer your time or donate to an organization your loved one supported to continue their legacy. It’s a way to get into the holiday spirit, paying respect to your loved one and helping
someone in need at the same time.
If you have recently lost a loved one, National Cremation sends our condolences. If you require our assistance this holiday season, please contact the nearest location, and we will help you through this difficult time.
- Reach Out to Others
It is common for those who are grieving to want to process their emotions in solitude. But reaching out to others can help alleviate feelings of loneliness during the holidays. Try to keep in contact with friends and family, and if necessary, join a support group or enlist the services of a mental health counselor.
There is no shame in asking for help when grieving the loss of a loved one.
We recommend the following articles for those who are grieving or know someone who is grieving:
Helping Others Experiencing a Loss Over the Holidays
Talking to friends who may have lost a loved one over the holiday season can be tricky. Most people don’t know what to say or feel helpless when their friends grieve in front of them.
However, those in grief often benefit from the support of friends and family, so it’s important to offer help at the time of the year that can be most painful for those experiencing grief.
But grief is not limited to humans; pets can experience grief as well. For tips on how to deal with a grieving pet please read our article: Do Pets Grieve? Dogs and Cats in Mourning
It’s important to note that there are many different ways to grieve. There is no set time limit for grief, and emotions may cover a wide range from sadness to anger. So don’t try to limit your loved ones by forcing them to go through what you think of as ‘grieving.’
Instead, allow them to scream, rant, and cry so they can process what has happened and slowly recover from their loss. Your presence and gentle advice are welcome, but your judgment and orders are not. Keep that in mind as we outline some basic ways to help a grieving friend through the holiday season.
- Invite Them to Join Your Festivities
One of the early stages of grief can include depression and isolation. Those experiencing grief may not have the energy or will to celebrate the holidays the way they used to. Take the initiative and ask if they want to join you, so they aren’t alone this holiday season.
Don’t force them to join you if they don’t want to, but an offering will help the bereaved feel more connected socially and can help alleviate the loneliness after a loved one has passed.
- Bring Them a Holiday Dish or Gift
If they don’t want to join you for the holidays, the bereaved may still appreciate a small gift or holiday dish, especially since they may be too tired or sad to put in the effort to do certain things for themselves. It shows that you are thinking of them while going through this tough time without making them feel bad about asking for help.
- Invite Them to a Religious Service
Many holidays have a religious theme, and inviting a grieving friend to come with you to a religious service may bring them some comfort. Sometimes just extending the offer or telling them that they are included in your prayers can bring comfort, especially if your friend practices a different religion than you.
- If They Are Celebrating With You, Allow Them to Leave Early
Sometimes, people mourning the loss of a loved one may feel overwhelmed by social situations, especially if their loved one often went with them to these occasions. If the bereaved is uncomfortable, don’t pressure them to stay until after dinner or until the children open presents.
Just let them go and wish them a happy holiday. They will appreciate participating in the fun until they need to calm down by themselves when they get tired or emotional without interrupting the festivities.
While it’s hard to watch a friend struggle through grief, know that it is an essential and healthy process. Their health comes before holiday fun. Being gentle but inclusive can help a grieving friend feel a little better this holiday season.
Disclaimer: This article is for educational purposes only and is not meant to be a substitute for mental health services. We recommend utilizing the following resources in addition to seeking treatment from a mental health professional.
- The Grief Resource Network
- National Suicide Prevent Hotline – 1-800-273-8255
- TAPS National Military Survivor Hotline – 800-959-TAPS (8277)
National Cremation is the nation’s oldest and largest provider of simple and affordable cremation services. Whether you have an immediate need or want to plan your cremation services in advance, we’re always available to assist you and your family. Contact us online or call (855)-469-9474 today.