Grief and the Holidays

After losing a loved one, many often dread celebrating the holidays. Here are some tips to help those suffering to cope with the feelings of loss during the holidays.

Be Patient – Be patient with yourself. That first year of holidays without a loved one is particularly hard. It is perfectly fine to give yourself permission to keep the holiday simple. Don’t feel guilty if the celebration is small or quiet. Also, be patient with others. They may not fully understand how deeply you are hurting and you may need to communicate that to them.

Stay connected – Don’t isolate yourself. Sometimes the worst place you can be is alone in your own head. Enjoy the company of family and friends who just want to love and support you. Being with other people around the holidays is good for the soul.

Be Good to Yourself – Remember to get plenty of sleep, eat the right foods and exercise. By exercising, we don’t mean a crazy work out, maybe just a walk around the park. The benefits will be that you will see other people; you’ll get some sun which in the winter will lift your mood; and finally, exercise releases endorphins, a chemical in our bodies that make us happier. Being happier is the goal.

Ask for Help – If your grief has become overwhelming for you, please reach out. A fantastic resource to seek out is the local Council on Aging. They have Outreach workers that can help find you a grief support group that would be a good fit for you. It can be a relief to know there are others that are going through the same thing you are going through. Grief support groups offer an amazing amount of compassion and understanding. If you are more of a private person, you may want to consider a therapist. Getting to talk about the way you feel is so important and a therapist can offer effective strategies to deal with your loss and your emotions.

Volunteer – A good way to get to forget about your grief for a little bit is to volunteer. Volunteering keeps you motivated and gives you something to look forward to. Interacting with others by helping them makes you feel fulfilled and helps you with your own grief.

Grief is a very personal journey, so remember that when dealing with it, there is no “right” way. As difficult as it may seem right now, you can and will get through this. Use the holidays as an opportunity to remember and to celebrate your loved one. Tell stories about past holidays, honor them by displaying their favorite ornament or playing their favorite song.  Honor them in the best possible way: by living your life to its fullest and enjoying every minute of it.

©Surprenant & Beneski, P.C. 35 Arnold Street, New Bedford, MA 02740, 336 South Street, Hyannis MA 02601 and 45 Bristol Drive, Easton, MA  02375. This article is for illustration purposes only. This handout does not constitute legal advice. There is no attorney/client relationship created with Surprenant & Beneski, P.C. by this article. Do NOT make decisions based upon information in this handout. Every family is unique and legal advice can only be given after an individual consultation with an elder law attorney. Any decisions made without proper legal advice may cause significant legal and financial problems.