Grief: Grieving Around the Holidays

Grief: Grieving Around the Holidays

By Emily Ferrer

As the weather gets colder, the colorful leaves fall off the trees, and the holiday decorations start to light up the night, the feeling of the best time of the year starts to kick in. As merry and cozy as these holidays seem to be, they do not always have the same effect on everyone. Grieving around the holidays can feel extremely lonely, sad, and overwhelming. The first holiday season is always the hardest for individuals and families who have just lost someone close to them, such as a grandparent, parent, sibling, child, or other close relative that they would usually see during the holidays. The empty chair at the dining table during Thanksgiving, or the wonder of who is going to make the Christmas cookies this year can be extremely heartbreaking. Even after you feel as if you have started to feel better through your grieving process, the holidays can dig up more emotion than you have felt since losing your loved one. You may start to feel more down, tired, unmotivated, sluggish, and lonely. You may also start to get flashbacks of your loved one when they passed that may also make you feel as if you are grieving from the beginning all over again. As hard as the holiday season may be for grieving individuals and families, here are some tips to help make your holiday season a bit brighter this year[1]:

  • Surround yourself with people you love and care about. Being with a big group of people during the holidays after losing a loved one can help you feel less lonely and can also be a great opportunity to share stories about your loved one with your family.
  • Do not “cancel” the holiday. As tempting as it may be to forget about the holidays after losing your loved one it is important to keep it going and grieve along the way. Experiencing the holiday season after the death of a loved one is part of the grieving process from which you should not run away.
  • Create new traditions. Finding new traditions can also be a create way to cope during the holiday season. This can include changing the location of where holiday dinner is hosted, picking new family members to carve the turkey or make the Christmas cookies, or even coming up with a new holiday game to play to fill the emptiness that everyone may feel.
  • Practice self-care. Try not to indulge in alcohol or drugs during the holiday season to cope with your grief; instead, try journaling, spending time with friends, or physical activity to boost your mood. It is also important to let yourself feel any emotions that arise and to not fight the conflicting feelings of anger, sadness, joy, and happiness.
  • Seek professional help. It is important to be aware of your feelings during such a difficult time and recognize that if the holiday season is too much for you to handle to seek professional help to assist you during this challenging period.

If you or someone you know is struggling with grief this holiday season and wants help, please contact our psychotherapy offices in New York or New Jersey to talk to one of our licensed professional psychologists, psychiatrists, psychiatric nurse practitioners, or psychotherapists at Arista Counseling & Psychotherapy. Contact our Paramus, NJ or Manhattan, NY offices respectively at (201) 368-3700 or (212) 722-1920 to set up an appointment. For more information, please visit




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