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Coping With Grief During The Holiday Season

The holidays are associated with family and friends in every cultural and ethnic group. This is the time of the year that is filled with joy and enthusiasm. However, there are some people who may not be able to fully enjoy the happiness that the holidays can bring — those who are grieving the loss of a loved one. Dr. Jagdeep Kaur, Psychiatrist at Keystone Behavioral Health, wants those people to know that while experiencing grief during the holiday season can be especially difficult, there are healthy ways to cope and remember your loved one.

Coping with grief

The pain of loss is hurtful and exhausting. Coping with grief in healthy ways is necessary for sound body and mind. We cannot forget the loved ones we’ve lost, and we should not try to forget them. But we need to understand that in this universe, things happen in a cyclic pattern. The same principle applies to life as well. We are not going to be on this earth forever. There is an end to everyone’s journey but that does not minimize the pain of grief. We should draw strength from the memories of lost loved ones. From my personal experience, I can tell you that crying is a common emotion when memories of your loved one come to mind. And that’s okay. You can cry. Tears are holy water and that makes crying a healing process. Allow yourself to feel the emotions fully. Sit with these feelings and find out what comes up.

Healthy coping strategies during the holidays

I have a few suggestions to ease the pain of loss which can be especially helpful this time of year.

  1. Anticipation: Visualize your holidays with and without your lost loved one. Allow yourself to feel your emotions. Try to replace negative emotions with positive feelings.
  2. Memory: Do something special alone or with other family members/friends in the memory of the lost loved one. Do it for you, not to please anybody else.
  3. Purpose: Have a meaning and purpose in your life. Strive towards your purpose while surrounding yourself with love and happy memories of your loved ones.
  4. Share: Share your thoughts and feelings with people that you feel comfortable with.
  5. Take care of yourself: Do what feels right to do for your wellbeing.

When to consider professional help

The hurtful feelings of grief can last for 3-4 months or longer. Usually, the first year after losing a loved one is difficult. If the feelings of grief are affecting you to the point that you are not able to function as normal in your daily life, it is time to seek professional help. Start by having a conversation with your medical doctor so that you will be referred to an appropriate professional.

 

This article contains general information only and should not be used as a substitute for professional diagnosis, treatment or care by a qualified health care provider.