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Dealing with grief during the holidays

Published in Health Care Home, Hospice Services Author: Nola Varilek

While the holidays are associated with warm memories and special traditions, it also can be a time of sadness and grief if you’ve lost someone. This may be the first holiday season without your loved one, or maybe you’ve had several holiday celebrations to navigate, but still find the holidays difficult. The grief process is unique for each person and it changes over time. Remember it is important to have resources and support in your life.

Here are a few tips that may be helpful in working through your grief during the holidays.

  • Recognize that the holiday season will be different. And it may be especially hard.
  • Share your feelings. Talk with someone you trust: family, friends, religious leader, support groups, therapist or grief counselor.
  • Use this time of transition to evaluate your holiday traditions. Keep the ones that are meaningful and change or discard the ones that are not.
  • Honor the memory of your loved one. Light a candle, make a donation in his/her honor, put out an ornament or decoration in his/her memory, play his/her favorite music or make his/her favorite dish.
  • Remind yourself that it is OK to feel both happiness and sadness, joy and grief. Enjoying yourself doesn’t diminish your love, but it shows strength that you can find meaning in the present.
  • Be honest with yourself, family and friends. Be open about what you can handle, your expectations and what is meaningful this year.
  • Have a Plan B. Just knowing you have an “out” can remove some of the pressure of an event or tradition.
  • Take care of yourself. In all the hustle and bustle make room for your grief. Give yourself time to rest, reflect, and rejuvenate. Maintain your physical health.
  • Feel free to “skip” the holidays if needed. They will come around again.

CentraCare Health has many individuals who are here to help you if you feel you need extra support in this difficult time. Please do not hesitate to contact St. Cloud Hospital Spiritual Care department or Grief Support Services through CentraCare Health Home Care & Hospice at any time to speak with a trained and supportive individual and to connect with resources in grief.

CentraCare Health also has grief and bereavement resources for those experiencing a loss and for those who want to help someone who has experienced a loss.