Grief During the Holidays

The holiday season is fully upon us! Decorations are out, and gatherings with friends, co-workers, family, and loved ones are occurring, and it’s a joyous time for most. While it is the most wonderful time of the year, the holiday season can be a very different experience for those who are experiencing grief after the loss of a loved one. The season can still be full of love, laughter, and connection, but when experiencing grief, a passed on loved one’s physical absence can feel even more pronounced, no matter which stage of grief one might be experiencing.

There are 5 stages of grief: denial, anger, depression, bargaining, and acceptance. Each stage looks, feels, and is experienced differently. Grief is an ongoing process, even for those who have reached acceptance. Holidays are times when family members, friends, and loved ones think of each other and tend to spend more time with each other. This loss can be felt even more, due to the tone this season brings. The holiday season can bring up memories from the past holiday seasons, as well as thoughts of how future traditions will look. There are several different types of activities that we can do at holiday events or just during the holiday season to honor a passed loved one. 

Activities:

  • Food: A huge way that people connect is over food. And what’s a holiday gathering or night without food! As a way to honor a loved one, make your favorite dish that the past loved one used to make, or make their favorite dish. If you aren’t up for cooking, spending an evening at the loved one’s favorite restaurant is a nice alternative!
  • Movies: Movies are a way that people can share experiences, and most people have a favorite movie (or a few). It’s common to watch specific movies during the holiday season, and gathering with loved ones to watch their favorite movie can be a bonding experience. This option is also nice because you can watch the movie on your own as well, whether it’s holiday-themed or not.
  • Sharing stories: Memories and stories about a passed loved one can be ways of feeling connected to them. If you are comfortable, sharing the stories and fond memories of a passed loved one can bring you back to a time when they were physically here. If you are not at the point of feeling comfortable talking about your loved one, journaling about a special memory is another great option that is more private.
  • Pictures: Pictures are wonderful gifts, in which a moment in time is captured forever. There are so many ways a picture of a loved one can be incorporated during the holiday season, including placing a picture of them at the table or making an ornament or decor in their honor.

Grief Support Groups: 

Depending on where you are in the grieving process, grief support groups are another amazing option. Most communities provide support groups weekly and tend to be low-cost to no cost. 

While grief can be experienced at any time of the year, during the holiday season it can be more evident. Honoring our passed-on loved ones can create new traditions, and allow us to share openly about our love and memories of them. Despite the physical distance, we can use these various activities to keep their spirit alive during the holiday season. 

If you would like help addressing your grief, give Tx Harmony Counseling a call at (832) 352-1600 or contact us here.

Kaitlyn DeLeon, LPC

Kaitlyn DeLeon, LPC

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