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Strategies for Coping with Loss During the Holidays

Thursday, December 29, 2016
If you've recently lost a loved one, the holidays can be a particularly challenging time of year. This will be the first holiday season without them, and the entire family dynamic will be affected. However, there are some things you can do to make this trying time easier.

Plan Ahead for Family Gatherings

Start by deciding what’s appropriate this year in terms of family events and parties. Who is best suited emotionally to take the role of host or hostess? Remember that you can always use a catering service instead of cooking, or perhaps go out for a holiday dinner.

Everyone handles loss differently. Be flexible and strive to honor each family member. Simplify the festivities this year so that everyone is comfortable. Consider creating a new tradition, or do something unique to honor your loved one. You might hang a special ornament on the tree, create a holiday memory board with photos, or light a special candle.

Reminisce and Grieve Together

Be honest in sharing your feelings about the loss with your family and friends, and encourage them to do the same. It will help all of you to process and grieve in a healthy manner. Reminisce, exchange stories – and be open to moments of laughter and good cheer! Your loved one would want it that way.

Process Your Feelings

For some people, the death of a loved one can affect sleep, eating patterns and energy levels. Find healthy ways to process your emotions. If needed, consider seeking the support of a professional counselor. Journaling is another valuable way to process complex feelings.

Above all, be patient with yourself. While joyful and festive, the holidays can be a stressful time of year. Consider planning something just for you for after the holidays, such as a massage, a spa treatment, shopping, or a day off all to yourself.

Lastly, even as you reminisce about your loved one, remember to appreciate the present and look forward to the future. After all, life is meant to be appreciated and enjoyed. Living your life to the fullest is the best way to honor your loved one’s passing.

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