How to Handle Grief During the Holidays

mature sad woman with her hands claspedYou may love the holiday season, but this year might be different if you recently experienced a loss, whether it be a death, separation, divorce, illness, trauma or job loss. A bad event like these can make it tough to get through the season. Instead of canceling the holidays altogether, use these tips to boost your spirits and make it through the festivities without having a major meltdown.


1. Do something new

Instead of sticking to your usual routine, make an effort to do something different this year. Trying something new can help if you're missing a particular person or have old traditions that are too painful to continue. Go for a trip or start a new tradition with your family and friends.

2. Donate or volunteer

Volunteering your time or donating your money to a cause that you believe in can make you feel better during the holidays. Volunteer at an event that you feel strongly about or make a donation to a charity. Consider donating in a lost loved one's name to a cause that he or she loved.

3. Socialize

You might feel like shutting yourself in your bedroom, but you'll be better off if you get out of the house for some human contact. Hopefully, your friends will understand your circumstances and help you cope with your feelings. Eat good food with people you love or join a support group with others who can relate to your situation.

4. Give yourself a break

You don't have to do everything that you normally would this holiday season. Set realistic expectations for yourself. If you usually host a holiday meal, for example, ask yourself if you're really capable of handling that extra task right now. If people offer to help, take them up on it.

5. Take care of yourself

While you grieve, make sure you're still taking care of yourself mentally and physically. Allow yourself to feel whatever it is you need to, but don't get lost in all those emotions. Avoid self-medicating with alcohol or other substances, and treat yourself right. Exercise to boost your mood or buy yourself a treat to indulge.

6. Develop a coping strategy

In case you find yourself getting too negative or unable to handle your emotions, have a coping strategy in place that you can use if you need help. Keep a list of numbers on hand for friends, family members, community organizations or hotlines, in case you need to call someone.

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