Managing Grief During the Holidays: Strategies for Coping with the Loss of a Loved One During the Festive Season

The holiday season is fast approaching and many people associate glad feelings with the holidays; usually gatherings of family and friends, food and fun. But, a majority of people experience heightened feelings of depression because of the loss of a loved one. In some cases, the loss could be recent, but in other cases, the loss of a spouse, parent, child or loved one could have occurred several years before the holiday. The loss is more profound during the holidays because of the absence of the person from family and friends’ gatherings.

There are ways to cope with feelings of sadness during the holidays when one is mourning the loss of a loved one.
Support from family and friends. Talking to family and friends during the holidays helps you cope with depression. Express your emotion. If it helps to talk about the deceased loved one, do so! Remembering special moments keep memories of the lost loved one alive.
Plan ahead. Holidays are a stressful time even without the loss of a loved one. Realize that this will be a time that you will feel the loss of the loved one more. Plan activities ahead of time to keep you busy. Visit relatives, start a hobby, read or engage in anything that you find comforting that will help with depression.
Keep it simple. There are many activities and things to do around the holidays. If you find that the holidays are a little too much, scale back and do only what you are able to handle. It is okay to keep it simple and not participate in every activity or attend every party. If you feel overwhelmed at a party or dinner, have a back-up plan so you can excuse yourself and distance yourself from the stress.
Do something different. Plan a trip if your heart leads you to getaway, try something different. Change the norm of your activities that you may have shared with your loved one that has passed. Engaging in activities that are different keep your emotions level and helps you to manage the difference in your life since the death of your loved one.
Skip it. If it is too much for you to handle, deciding not to engage in holiday dinners or social gatherings may help you to cope. Allow yourself a chance to grieve. There is a period of grief that everyone must go through to heal. There is no set time for grieving. However, make sure that you are not isolating yourself either. Isolating yourself during this time will lead to more depression. Make sure you have family and/or friends to talk to make sure that you are doing well emotionally.

If coping techniques do not provide any relief, or the grief is very profound and disruptive to life, seeking counseling from mental health professionals may benefit the grieving individual to deal with life-changing depression. Many states and local agencies have certified mental health professionals and counselors, as well as support groups for grieving individuals.



Support Groups in St. Tammany Parish and surrounding metropolitan areas: