Dr. Heather Violante is out of the office for the rest of May and will accept new teletherapy clients in June 2024.

Dealing with Grief During the Holidays

Dealing with Grief During the Holidays

Dealing with Grief During the Holidays

The holidays are usually a time of year for peace, joy, and celebrating with loved ones, but for those who are grieving, it can be a painful reminder of what you’ve lost. It doesn’t matter how many years have passed and whether it’s your 1st, 5th, or 20th holiday without them, it can still bring on feelings of grief, sadness, anxiety, and disbelief. That’s normal and totally okay.


Here are some tips to empower you to get through the grief during the holidays:

Don’t deny the grief. 

Acknowledge it and don’t try to hide it or pretend it’s not there. Allow yourself to cry if you need to. Don’t push the emotions down. Feel them. It’s ok.


Talk to people about how you feel. 

You can talk to your therapist, friends, confidants, etc. Even if you’re not feeling sadness or grief, acknowledge what you are feeling. Also be aware that you may feel bad when the actual day of the holiday arrives. You don’t want to be caught off guard if you suddenly feel grief, sadness, anxiety, or anything else. There’s no shame in how you feel. All feelings are valid.


Think about the old traditions. 

What did you used to do with your loved one during the holidays? Try to keep up with some of these traditions and keep their memory alive if that’s appropriate for you. If it’s too difficult to follow through with some of the traditions without your loved one physically present, you can add a twist or modify it. You can do something that makes it feel as though your loved one is still there with you, even though they’re not physically with you. 


Start a new tradition. 

This can help to keep their memory alive and keep them a part of the holidays. You can put up a portrait or family photo taken during the holidays, make an ornament with their name or photo on it (this is a great one to do with kids who may also be grieving), light a candle in their honor, etc. This is also acknowledging that they’re gone and accepting this new way of life. It is a way of expressing gratitude or even acknowledging the blessing that you still have those memories and they had a major impact on your life.


Do what feels right for YOU. 

Take time to think about and reflect on how you feel and what you want to do this holiday season. Think about how you can make the holidays special for you and ways to honor your loved one’s memory. Don’t feel pressured into doing something you aren’t ready for despite what others around you prefer.


Set boundaries. 

People often get pressured from family to attend everything and do everything their way. Even if what they are doing isn’t what you want to do, you can still attend the events and parties and not partake in all of the activities and traditions. It’s ok to say NO.


Don’t be afraid to talk about your loved one. 

Talk about them with others and the positive memories you have. Bring up their name at the dinner table and ask your loved ones to talk about them and share stories, especially ones you’ve never heard before. Don’t be afraid to learn more about your loved one and embrace the topic (if you are ready). 


Take care of yourself.

Listen to what you need and make time for yourself. Put your healing first, even if it means you have to miss out on certain holiday events and activities. If this is a recent loss, it is especially important to take care of yourself, let yourself grieve, and show yourself compassion.


Don’t be alone for the holidays. 

It’s important not to be alone or to isolate, even if you feel like you want to. This is especially important if your loved one was the only person you had in your life. If you are invited to spend the holidays with others, try to do it, even if it’s with a friend and you can only stay for a short time. Just don’t isolate yourself. 


Go to therapy or grief counseling. 

There’s no statute of limitation or time frame for how long you are allowed to grieve. If you’re able to function, keep in mind to take care of yourself and let time do the healing. If you are struggling with keeping up with your daily routine, or find small tasks impossible to do, therapy or grief counseling can help. You don’t have to go through this alone.


Therapy Can Help You Cope with Grief

Therapy or grief counseling can help you cope with grief during the holidays. It empowers you to accept the loss, honor your loved one, and heal so you can enjoy life again. If you live in Florida or New York, contact Dr. Heather Violante online or call (754) 333-1484 to learn more.