You don’t need permission to grieve
Dec. 23, 2022— There's a lot of pressure to be merry this time of year. But if you've experienced a loss—of a loved one, a relationship or a job—you might find it difficult to cope with the holiday season.
If you're grieving, here are six steps from the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization and AARP that may help you handle the holidays:
1. Remember: There's no right way to grieve. Grief is a normal reaction to a loss, and no two people experience it in exactly the same way. Working through loss—and the feelings you have—is part of the way forward.
2. Change your traditions—or take comfort in them. From decorating to cooking certain foods, we all have holiday traditions. If one seems too painful now, it's OK to skip it. Or if you think it might bring you comfort instead, stick with it. Whether you choose to change or keep your traditions is up to you.
3. Pause to remember. Many people choose to honor lost loved ones by doing something special in their memory. Maybe that's giving to a holiday charity, volunteering at a shelter, or sharing a favorite story about your loved one with friends or relatives.
4. Do what feels right. If you don't feel like attending a party or event, it's OK to opt out. Be realistic about what you think you can do. At the same time, there's nothing wrong with going out if you enjoy it.
5. Reach out to family and friends. You may find comfort in being around those who care about you, whether that's your relatives or a dear friend. If you want to talk, let them know it may help you deal with your grief. Support groups or online forums for people living with loss may also be helpful to you.
6. Take good care of yourself. Grief can drain your energy. Eat a balanced diet and get plenty of rest. And regular exercise can give you more energy, which can help you cope. Make time to do things that comfort you and that may take your mind off grieving. Watch a movie, read a book or take a warm bath.
- AARP. "Dealing with Grief During the Holiday Season." https://www.aarp.org/home-family/friends-family/info-2020/grief-loss-during-holidays.html.
- American Cancer Society. "Coping with Grief During the Holidays." https://www.cancer.org/latest-news/coping-with-grief-during-the-holidays.html.
- CaringInfo. "Types of Grief and Loss." https://www.caringinfo.org/planning/grief-and-loss/types-of-grief-and-loss/.
- Mental Health America. "Bereavement and Grief." https://www.mhanational.org/bereavement-and-grief.
- American Academy of Family Physicians. "Grieving: Facing Illness, Death, and Other Losses." https://familydoctor.org/grieving-facing-illness-death-and-other-losses/.