FACTS FOR FAMILIES: Tips for Coping With Grief This Holiday Season | Health, medicine and fitness
The holiday season is fast approaching and given the loss, turmoil and uncertainty we have recently experienced, I wanted to share this article from extension educator Karla Belzer.
While the holiday season brings joy and celebration, it can also be a time of great sadness and pain, as traditions and family memories can intensify grief. The season is truly bittersweet – sweet memories of a loved one combined with the reality of loss.
Grieving a loved one is a difficult experience anytime of the year, however, during the holiday season we often remember our loss through family traditions and celebrations as well as the ever-present push to get into the “holiday spirit”. We associate the holidays with the good times and special memories, which makes us all the more likely to miss our loved one even more this time of year.
There are endless blog posts, articles, books, support groups, and seminars that focus on the topic of holiday mourning. There is no one way to grieve or deal with loss while on vacation. Even so, the following suggestions can be helpful in dealing with a loss during this time of year.
Dr Alan Wolfelt, director of the Center for Loss and Life Transition, identified tips to help with healing while on vacation:
â¢ Express your feelings by accepting them and communicating about them.
â¢ Be aware of your physical and psychological needs.
â¢ Avoid burnout and reduce unnecessary stress.
â¢ Surround yourself with caring and supportive friends and family.
â¢ Remember and honor your loved one by including their name in your conversations.
â¢ Evaluate what to do during the holiday season and avoid pressure from well-meaning friends and family about what you âshould doâ.
â¢ Evaluate your family traditions by considering those you want to continue and identifying new traditions you would like to start.
â¢ Share your loved one’s treasured memories with others.
â¢ Think about the meaning and purpose of your life.
â¢ Express your faith, if it is important to you, by attending holiday services or ceremonies, and spending time with those who share your same beliefs.
Supporting a grieving person can also be difficult while on vacation. Well-meaning friends and family often don’t know what to say or do to help. The National Hospices and Palliative Care Organization recommends the following suggestions for helping a grieving person while on vacation:
â¢ Support the person in the way they choose to celebrate the holiday.
â¢ Offer to help with daily chores and errands or holiday preparations.
â¢ Include the person in your celebrations and religious services.
â¢ Encourage the person to volunteer with you during the holiday season.
â¢ Honor their loss by making a donation on behalf of a loved one.
â¢ Avoid passing judgment on their grief by telling the person they should âbe done with itâ.
â¢ Give the gift of active listening if the person wants to talk about their loved one.
â¢ Remind the person that they and their loved one are on your mind.
â¢ Check in with the person after the vacation to help them cope with any grief that may arise after the vacation.
While the holiday season can be a difficult time to cope with loss, it can be a time of reminiscence and love – a time to honor the memory of a loved one while healing from their loss. May you be comforted in your grief this holiday season.
Karla Belzer’s Family Records blog can be found at extension.illinois.edu/blogs/family-files
For more information on the University of Illinois Unit 19 programming and to read other helpful articles, visit our website at https://extension.illinois.edu/ccdms , call us at 217-345-7034 or contact Cheri Burcham at [email protected] Also visit the Family Files blog at https://extension.illinois.edu/blogs/family-files
Cheri Burcham is the Family Life Educator at the U of I Extension.