Coping with grief over the holidays

‘Tis most definitely the season. Unfortunately, for people grieving the death of a loved one, the sights, sounds and traditions of this time of year don’t always bring joy and can be anything but merry.

“The holiday season can compound feelings of loss,” says Jaime Bickerton, Executive Director of Bereaved Families of Ontario – Midwestern Region (BFO-MR). “For people grieving the death of a loved one, it can be an especially difficult time of year.”

BFO-MR offers the following suggestions to help those who are grieving cope with the holiday season:

  • Be aware and tolerant of your limitations. Eliminate unnecessary stress. Lower your expectations and demands on yourself. Create time and space for yourself if that-’s what you need.
  • Consider changing holiday routines and traditions. Maintain traditions that feel comforting and let go of those that no longer feel right.
  • Plan ahead. Know what you can anticipate over the season. Give yourself options, and allow yourself to change plans if you feel the need.

  • Be with supportive, comforting people. Spend time with people who listen and validate your feelings, both happy and sad.
  • Designate time and space for your loss. Talk about the person who has died. Share a story of your loved one or prepare a meal in their honour. Light a candle. Look at pictures of your loved one. Embrace your memories.
  • It’s okay to laugh. Embrace the moments of joy you might feel. Accept the love of those around you. Give yourself permission to feel happiness as well as sadness.
  • Do what is right for YOU during the holidays. Be honest about your needs. Ask for help and allow yourself to receive it.