Grieving the Loss of a Loved One During the Holidays

The holiday season is filled with traditions and expectations of celebration and joys spent with family and friends.   When grieving the loss of a loved one, you may feel out of sync with the upbeat holiday spirit and others around you in a society that expects people to speed through their grief.

Grieving the loss of a loved one is deeply painful and can be overwhelming. The holidays and other special occasions can be difficult, triggering memories of your loved one. Some natural grief responses are feeling emotionally numb, changes in appetite, sleep difficulties, feeling exhausted without energy, not wanting to be with people, feeling angry about your loss and crying at unexpected time.

Know that as a unique individual you will grieve in your own way.   The grief one experiences in reaction to loss effects your whole being; it impacts you emotionally, physically, spiritually, as well as your thinking and the way your relate to others.

Guidelines for healthy grieving during the holidays and the rest of the year:

Before Christmas and New Year’s Day arrive, consider how you will choose to spend the day. You may choose to spend the holiday in a very different way than you would have when your loved one was alive. Perhaps you may want to purchase a gift and give it away in memory of them. If the holiday time was important to your loved one, you may want to continue the celebration of the event in the way you did when they were with you, although perhaps with some changes.

  • Acknowledge and accept your loss and your grief rather than avoid it.
  • Turn to God and invite Him into this season of loss and grief. The Jesus of the Bible was very acquainted with sorrow and shed tears. He is willing to accompany you in the journey of your own grief.
  • Be intentional in dealing with your loss. Give yourself as much time as you need to reflect on and experience your feelings about the loss of your loved one.
  • Talk about your loved one. Find supportive others who will listen to you share about your loved one and your loss.
  • Feel…feel. Allow yourself to cry. Slow down the pace of your life and weed out your busy schedule to embrace your season of grieving and loss. Consider journaling as a tool to reflect on your feelings.
  • Anticipate after a season of journeying with God in your grief, that you will eventually enter a new season of life, though your life will be forever changed.
  • Seek counseling when having trouble grieving and when your grief is interfering with your daily activities, causing relationship problems or intense depression/guilt or making it difficult for you to go on with your life. At Genesis Counseling Center, there are counselors available to help and support you during your season of grieving.

May the God of all comfort, comfort you in your grief,

Cynthia Tidwell, LICSW/Staff Therapist