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Grief During the Holidays: Find Hope

Posted by Mayo Clinic Care Network on Nov 28, 2023

Blog-Grief-During-HolidaysThe holiday season can be one of the most difficult times of the year when you have experienced the death of someone you love.

Holidays — a time of family togetherness, traditions, joy and thankfulness — can suddenly bring sadness, loss and a feeling of emptiness. It's a time when your senses are confronted with sights, sounds and smells that can trigger memories of the past, resulting in a renewed sense of personal grief.

New or long-lasting grief can make you feel like you're all turned around, going in circles or out of balance. Understanding how you and other family members respond to grief can bring back a sense of balance, which can help you explore ways to embrace loving memories and recognize your needs during this difficult time.

It's also important to remember that adults are not the only family members who grieve. Children often are the forgotten mourners. Unlike adults, they can move in and out of their grief quickly, which is normal.

Children can benefit from having opportunities to express how they feel, along with reassurance and loving support. Including children in sharing memories and activities with family and friends can be an important part of the healing process.

During this holiday season, keep these tips in mind:

Plan ahead.

Consider where the challenges may come so you can make a plan that is comfortable for you. Tell family members and friends of your needs ahead of time so they understand that things may be different this year.

Grant yourself permission to change traditions.

It's OK to shift or forgo some traditions this year. Alterations in family traditions don't need to become new traditions. Do what feels right at this time.

Ask for help.

Accept offers for assistance with shopping, decorating, cooking and other holiday activities.

Share memories with family and friends.

Your loved one is missed but not forgotten. Memories can bring laughter and tears. Both are OK and can be healing.

Light a special holiday candle.

Place the candle in an important spot as a symbol that love lives on.

Create a tribute.

Honor your loved one's passions by crafting something to serve as a long-lasting reminder. For example, you could make a scrapbook, build a birdhouse, plant a tree or make keepsake ornaments with family and friends.

Johnson Memorial Health is a member of the Mayo Clinic Care Network — a select group of carefully vetted, independent healthcare organizations with special access to Mayo Clinic knowledge, resources and expertise.

Topics: Mental Health