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Six Tips to Cope with Grief During the Holidays

What we have once enjoyed and deeply loved we can never lose, for all that we love deeply becomes a part of us.” – Helen Keller

The holidays can be an especially difficult time for parents who are not able to be with their children. So many holiday routines and activities revolve around the gathering of family and friends.  The following are tips for enjoying your holidays in the face of grief:

1. Simplify–  Don’t expect to do everything you have in the past. Pick and choose what you’re up for. Communicate with your family and friends if you if you need to “take a break” from past expectations. Let them know what your plans are and what you might need from them in return.

2. Honor Your Family– You most certainly had hopes and expectation for what the holidays would be like. And now things have changed. It is alright to acknowledge loss. Making gifts or cards for your family may still hold special significance for everyone.

3. Make Room for Your Feelings– Acknowledge all of your feelings and share them with those you love and trust. Expressing your emotions honestly may make it easier to cope with changes this holiday season.

4. Create New Traditions– Change the focus of your celebration. Revisit why you celebrate a particular holiday and what its significance is in your life. This can give traditions and rituals a renewed depth of meaning.

5. Be Generous with Others– Do things that help you feel connected to the people you love. Spend time with the people you want to be with. Nurture those relationships. Give of your time, talents and skills. Sharing can lift spirits and ease feelings of loss and grief.

6. Be Generous with Yourself– Expect that you may feel sad sometimes over the holidays. Allow yourself to be happy. There is nothing selfish about celebrating or feeling joy. The capacity for joy is what connects us to each other. It’s what the holidays are all about.


Adapted from writing of Erika Goyer, the mother of three boys and a family support navigator with Hand to Hold.