Supportive tips to cope with grief over the holidays

Published: 4/12/2023
 How do you deal with grief over the holidays: Supportive tips
How do you deal with grief over the holidays: Supportive tips

The holiday season is often a time of joy, celebration and togetherness. However, for those who are grieving the loss of a loved one, this time of year can be incredibly challenging. The festive atmosphere and the emphasis on family and traditions can intensify feelings of sadness and loneliness. If you're experiencing grief during the holidays, know that you're not alone and there are ways to navigate this difficult period with support and advice.   

In this article, we'll provide you with some valuable tips to help you cope with grief these  holidays.

Acknowledge your feelings

The first step in coping with grief during the holidays is to acknowledge your feelings. It's okay to feel sad, lonely and even angry. Grief is a natural response to loss, and there's no right or wrong way to experience it. Give yourself permission to feel whatever emotions come up and understand that it's a normal part of the healing process.

Reach out for support and advice

During the holiday season, it's important to lean on your support system. Don't hesitate to reach out to friends and family members who are willing to listen and provide emotional support. Sharing your feelings and memories with loved ones can be comforting and can help you feel less alone in your grief journey.

Create new traditions

Holidays are often associated with long-standing traditions that may remind you of your loved one. While it's essential to honour these traditions and memories, consider creating new ones as well. Start fresh by incorporating activities or rituals that help you celebrate the holidays in a way that feels meaningful to you.  

RELATED ARTICLE: Ways to Cope with Grief and Loss

Set realistic expectations

It's easy to become overwhelmed by the pressure to be joyful and festive during the holidays, and set realistic expectations for yourself. Understand that it's okay to take a step back and prioritise self-care. You don't have to participate in every holiday event or tradition if it feels too emotionally taxing.

 How do you deal with grief over the holidays: Supportive tips
How do you deal with grief over the holidays: Supportive tips

Practice self-care

Self-care is essential during the holiday season, especially when you're grieving. Make sure to prioritise your physical and emotional well-being. This might include getting enough rest, eating nourishing foods and engaging in activities that bring you comfort and peace. Taking care of yourself allows you to better navigate the challenges of grief.

Seek professional support 

Sometimes, grief can become overwhelming and it may be necessary to seek professional support and advice. Grief counselling or therapy can provide you with the tools and strategies to cope with your emotions and develop healthy ways to grieve. Don't hesitate to reach out to a therapist or counsellor if you feel that your grief is becoming unmanageable.

Create a memory ritual

Honouring the memory of your loved one during the holidays can be a beautiful way to cope with grief. Consider creating a memory ritual or ceremony that allows you to pay tribute to your loved one. This could be lighting a candle, placing a special ornament on the tree, or sharing stories and memories with family members.

Volunteer or give back 

Sometimes, finding meaning and purpose in helping others can be a powerful way to cope with grief. Consider volunteering your time or participating in charitable activities during the holiday season. Giving back to your community or supporting a cause that was meaningful to your loved one can be a very healing experience.

Plan ahead

Planning ahead can alleviate some of the stress and anxiety associated with the holidays. Create a schedule that allows you to balance your need for solitude and reflection with social gatherings and celebrations. Having a plan in place can help you feel more in control of your holiday experience.

How do you deal with grief over the holidays: Supportive tips
How do you deal with grief over the holidays: Supportive tips

Be kind to yourself

Above all, be kind and patient with yourself as you navigate grief during the holidays. Remember that healing is a process and there's no timeline for grief. It's okay to have good days and bad days and it's okay to ask for help when you need it. Your grief journey is unique, and you deserve the support and understanding that you need to cope.

Connect with support groups

You are not alone in your grief, and there are support groups and communities that understand what you're going through. Seek out local or online support groups specifically designed for those grieving during the holidays. These groups can provide a safe space to share your experiences, feelings, and coping strategies with others who can relate.  

RELATED ARTICLE: Why grief support groups are so important

Find comfort in nature

Spending time in nature can be incredibly soothing during times of grief. Whether it's a stroll through a nearby park, a hike in the mountains, or a visit to the beach, nature has a way of offering solace and a sense of connection to the world around you. Take moments to breathe in the fresh air, listen to the sounds of nature, and find peace in the simplicity of the natural world.

Be mindful of triggers

Certain holiday traditions or activities may serve as triggers for your grief. Be mindful of these triggers and prepare yourself emotionally. It's okay to skip events or traditions that you're not ready to face. Communicate your needs to your loved ones and most will understand and support your decision to prioritise your emotional well-being.

Give yourself permission to say no 

If you want to maintain a sense of normalcy during the holidays, you may feel pressured to say yes to every invitation. However, remember that it's perfectly fine to say no when you need to. Prioritise the activities and gatherings that bring you comfort and joy, and graciously decline the ones that feel overwhelming or stressful.  

Coping with grief during the holidays can be a deeply personal and challenging experience, but it is possible to find peace and healing.  Remember that healing is a gradual process and there is no right or wrong way to grieve. By implementing these supportive tips and advice, you can navigate the holiday season with resilience and find moments of peace and healing along the way. You are not alone, and there is hope for brighter days ahead.  

To find support:    

Beyond Blue provides Australians with information and support to improve their mental health. Call 1300 22 46 36 or visit beyondblue.org.au for more information.    

Lifeline Australia provides Australians experiencing a personal crisis with access to 24-hour crisis support. Call 13 11 14 or visit lifeline.org.au for more information.    

GriefLine listens, cares and supports people experiencing loss and grief, at any stage in life. Call 1300 845 6am to midnight AEST, 7 days a week.    

MensLine Australia is a professional telephone and online support and information service for Australian men. Call 1300 78 99 78, 24 hours / 7 days a week.    

Kids Helpline is a free 24/7, confidential and private counselling service Australia wide specifically for children and young people aged 5 to 25 years. Call 1800 55 1800.    

Life Supports Counselling provides Australians with experienced counsellors & psychologists in their local area Australia-wide. Call 1300 735

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