9 Ways to Cope with Grief Over the Holidays

The Elisabeth Severance Prentiss Bereavement Center offers free Healing Arts Workshops like this "Fabric & Feelings" session, to help those who are grieving work through their feelings. (Photo by Bob Perkoski)  

Holiday music is playing in the stores. Displays and decorations are out and ads touting the latest “must have” gifts are everywhere. For those who are grieving the death of a loved one, the commercial frenzy, family traditions and overwhelming to do list can act as a grief trigger, making the season an exceptionally difficult time.

Grief support specialists at the Elisabeth Severance Prentiss Bereavement Center suggest these coping tips:

Separate the wants from the shoulds. Separate how you would like to celebrate the holiday season from how others feel it should be celebrated.

Plan ahead. Decide in advance how you would like to spend the holidays to reduce anxiety. With whom would you like to spend the holidays? Where would you like to hold the holiday dinner?

Use support systems. Surround yourself with those who are supportive and understanding of your grief. Avoid people who will place expectations on your feelings and your grief.

Lower expectations. Honestly share with family and friends how you would like to spend the holidays this year. Lower your expectations about actively participating. Give yourself permission to grieve.

Reduce commitments. Limit the number of social engagements. Choose only those that you are comfortable attending, if any. Also understand that your energy level may be very low at this time. Take time to rest.

Start a new tradition. Begin a new tradition. This could be something which honors your loved one as well as allows for new traditions.

Honor the deceased. Visit the cemetery, light a candle in his/her honor, share stories, reminisce about past holiday celebrations. Include remembrances of your loved one in your holiday plans. The reality is that he/she will probably be on your mind.

Shopping and baking. Allow someone else to do the shopping and baking for you this year, or have a friend share in these activities with you. Use catalogs or the Internet to do your shopping. This will reduce the commercial blitz we often feel when shopping in stores/malls.

Consider support groups. The Elisabeth Severance Prentiss Bereavement Center has resources to help. Most programs and services free of charge to anyone in the community, or are available at nominal cost. No family connection to hospice is necessary to use the resources. For more information, call 216.486.6838, or visit the website at www.hospicewr.org.

Laurie Henrichsen

Public & Media Relations, Hospice of the Western Reserve

Read More on Health
Volume 6, Issue 12, Posted 4:50 PM, 12.06.2015