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Coping with grief during the holidays 
Coping with grief during the holidays

Coping with grief during the holidays 

Tuesday, December 5, 2023

Behavioral Health

Spending your first holiday season without a loved one is hard, and the grieving process looks different for everyone. Although nothing can ever replace their presence, try some of these strategies to alleviate your heartache this time of year.  

Honor your loved one

Celebrating the life of your loved one can be done in a multitude of ways. Have their picture out during your family gathering. Light a candle in their honor. Make a toast or say a prayer. Ask members of your gathering to share special memories of your loved one. These are all meaningful ways to honor their life and feel their presence during your holiday get-together.

Ask for help if you need it

Be an advocate for yourself. If you need a shoulder to cry on, call a friend or family member and tell them. If you need space and time alone, that’s okay too. Communicating your needs will let your loved ones know how to best support you in this time of need.

Give yourself grace

With all this said, you know your mind and body better than anyone. If you aren’t feeling up to decorating the tree or carrying out your holiday traditions, don’t. Pay attention to what feels right for you.

Take care of yourself

Extreme stress, like the kind brought on by grief, can worsen existing conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure. According to Harvard Health Publishing, up to 50% of surviving spouses experience depression in the months following their spouse’s death. If you feel your health is deteriorating, seek advice from a healthcare professional.

If someone you know is grieving during the holidays, take time to check in on them. Ask them what they need, respect their boundaries and be there to listen. Knowing you care and are there for them can make the grieving process a little more bearable.


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Genesis HealthCare System’s Health and Wellness content conveniently provides accurate and helpful information. Your health history and current health may impact suggestions provided through our Health and Wellness content. Although we hope this information is helpful, it is not a substitute for your doctor's medical advice. Before making any significant changes, please consult your doctor.