Whether their loss is recent or the holidays are bringing an old loss to the surface, the holiday season can be an especially challenging time.
Grief is a time of re-assessing priorities.
It calls everything into question.
It’s not uncommon to gain/lose friends, change jobs, or set new goals after someone we care about dies.
It is also a time of taking stock of how to celebrate the holidays. Sometimes short-term or permanent changes are needed in order to cope and ultimately make the holidays enjoyable again.
Here are some suggestions that can support them.
- Find ways to remember their loved one: Some ideas: make a donation to a meaningful charity, volunteer in his/her memory, light a candle. some clients buy special Christmas tree ornaments.
- Make time for themselves: Some ideas: take a day off and spend it in reflection, self-care, or plain old fun like a hike or going to a movie.
- Give themselves permission to say “no”: Some examples: It’s OK to decline party invitations.
- Change some holiday traditions. Some examples: I had clients who decided to rent a cottage and go away for the holidays; spending the holidays in their usual way with family felt too painful. Less dramatic changes might be to go to Christmas eve services after not having been in years or going out for Christmas dinner instead of cooking at home.
- Doing something for others. Some examples: Give of their time, talents, or finances by donating food to the homeless shelter. Helping others is a proven way to improve mood.
- Express their feelings. Some examples: talk to a religious leader or therapist, a friend, write in a journal, or attend a memorial service.
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