Managing Grief During the Holidays

The holidays are known as a time for joy and togetherness. However, for people who have lost a loved one, this time of year can bring pain and sorrow. This year, COVID-19 has not only left many grieving the loss of loved ones but living through lost jobs, financial freedom, and interactions. While most do not associate some of these experiences with grief, naming it for what it is can be helpful in the healing process. Finding ways to cope with your loss may feel overwhelming. While the grief and pain will still be present, it is possible to find ways to ease your suffering during this difficult time.

Tips to Cope with Grief During the Holidays

  • Give yourself permission to grieve: Remember there isn’t a deadline for grief. Allow yourself to feel the emotions that accompany your sadness during the holiday, and respect your boundaries.
  • Create new traditions: It can be unbearable for some to celebrate in the same way once a loved one has passed. It’s okay to do things differently, and it’s all right to not feel festive.
    Allow yourself to feel positive emotions: Experiencing joy and happiness can make some people feel guilty or like they are betraying the person who passed away. Feeling positive emotions does not mean that the love is gone; it is a sign of your resilience.
  • Create a ritual in that person’s memory: It may be simply lighting a candle or doing an activity you enjoyed together. It should be something you connect with to honor them in your own way.
  • Have self-compassion: Be kind to yourself and acknowledge that you are going through a period of loss.
  • Focus on what you can control: Thoughts about the future or holidays can be difficult. Instead, focus on engaging activities that are comforting.

Tips to Support a Coworker, Friend or Family Member Experiencing Grief During the Holidays

  • Check-in on them: Make sure they are taking care of their needs, such as eating and sleeping. If not, help support them, or connect them to appropriate support resources. Ask them about their needs and adjust your support accordingly.
  • Allow them to speak about the deceased person: Speaking about the loss can be very therapeutic for those grieving. Creating a safe space for them to express themselves without judgment could be the greatest gift to them this holiday season.
  • Resist offering advice: Everyone grieves differently. Simply be present and supportive of your loved one if they are experiencing grief.

Behavioral Health Systems is the parent company of Safety First. BHS offers Mental Health and Substance Abuse benefits to employers along with Employee Assistance Programs.