Healing through the holidays: how to cope with grief during the holidays

The MIND 24-7 Team | December 20, 2023

The holiday season is usually filled with laughter, joy, and togetherness. But for some, it can be a tough time, especially if they are dealing with the loss of a loved one or something they hold dear. Coping with grief during the holidays is a unique experience, and learning how to cope with grief during the holidays can make a big difference. Let’s discuss self-care techniques, the importance of maintaining social connections, where to go for help, and other ways to help navigate holiday grief. 

Practice self-care

Taking care of yourself is like giving a little extra love to your soul. When you’re coping with holiday grief, continue to take care of your basic needs. Go on walks, eat healthy food, get enough sleep, and spend time with loved ones. It is okay to take a break from festivities and obligations to do things that make you feel good. It could be taking a warm bath, drawing, or listening to music. Take the time to focus on what your heart needs to process and heal. 

Maintain social connections

Even if it feels hard, staying connected with friends and family can help you cope with grief. Surround yourself with people who care about you. Share your feelings with someone you trust. They may not have all the answers and be unable to make the pain disappear, but having someone listen can make a big difference.

Be gentle with expectations

It is natural to want everything to be perfect during the holidays, but it is okay if things are different this year. Remind yourself this time of year is extra hard, and it’s okay not to be okay. Allow yourself to let go of high expectations to do everything as you used to. Let yourself sit out activities or events if you need to. After all, there’s no right or wrong way to celebrate the holiday season. Show yourself compassion and remember that mourning takes time.  

Feel your feelings

Feeling sad, angry, or even happy during the holidays is okay. Grief brings a mix of feelings, and it’s important to acknowledge and accept them. Rather than trying to pretend everything is normal, allow yourself to feel the emotions that arise, whether it’s joy, sadness, anger, loneliness, or a tangled mix of everything. If you need to cry, that’s okay. If you laugh at a funny memory, that’s okay, too. Your feelings are valid, and expressing them is vital to healthy healing. 

Practice mindfulness

Mindfulness is like a superpower that can help you be present in the here and now instead of worrying about the past or future. To practice being in the present moment, focus on your breath. Try to breathe slowly in and out. If your mind begins to think about something else, that’s okay, just notice and then refocus on your breath. 

Start a memory book

Creating a memory book is a beautiful way to honor and remember your loved one. Write down memories, add pictures, and invite others to contribute special things that remind them of the person who passed away. It’s a special project that can help you celebrate the love and joy you shared. 

Do something for someone in need

Helping others can be a powerful way to cope with grief. Whether it’s volunteering at a local charity or simply being there for a friend, acts of kindness can bring a sense of purpose. The act of giving can bring a special kind of warmth to the holiday season and be a nice way to honor the person who passed away.

Start new traditions

Traditions are like special threads that connect the holidays year after year. When faced with the loss of someone or something you hold dear, certain holiday traditions may be too painful to continue. Consider starting new traditions to create a sense of renewal. It could be as simple as trying out a new recipe or looking through a memory book. Find what feels good for you and embrace the opportunity to create ways to celebrate the season. 

Holiday grief support with MIND 24-7

Whether you are caring for someone who is grieving or suffering a loss yourself, help is available. For those in the Phoenix area, MIND 24-7 provides 24/7 walk-in, crisis, and ongoing support for children and adults, even during the holidays. Whether you need an empathetic listener or emergency help, our doors are always open. To get same-day holiday grief support, visit one of our convenient locations or text/call 1-844-MIND247.