Coping with Holiday Grief

Unhappy woman crying in bedDoes grief have you feeling down this holiday season? One may think that the holiday season brings good tidings and cheer, but suffering from grief is more common than people realize. Simply finding a way through the holiday season can be challenging if you’ve lost a loved one.

Grief affects everyone differently, but the most important thing one can do is focus on your mental health. Amber Olson, behavioral health consultant supervisor at Memorial Behavioral Health—Counseling Associates, provides several tips to help cope with grief during the holiday season:

• Help yourself. Talk with family or friends you trust that are sharing the experience with you. Reminisce about the lost loved one, carry on with family holiday traditions or embark in a new one. Light a candle in their memory or visit the grave.
• Allow others to know where you are at emotionally. It’s OK to say that your loved one is weighing heavily on your mind so you will not be attending a planned holiday activity.
• Be patient. Our reaction is grief is unique; there is no timeframe for it. Do not force yourself to go through grief too quickly. Grief changes with time but never completely goes away.
• Trust your gut and listen to yourself. Others tend to offer a lot of advice, but that advice may not be what works best for you. If a friend is telling you it’s time to move past the grief, but you are not ready, let yourself experience the feelings of missing your loved one this holiday season.

Symptoms of grief are very similar to depression. If symptoms are affecting daily functioning such as causing a lack of eating or overeating, too little or too much sleep or withdrawing from family and friends, help is available. If you or someone you know are concerned about abnormal symptoms, take a free, anonymous screening at