• “Who is going to carve the turkey this year?”
• “I’m not in the mood for a family gathering this year.”
• “I have lost any desire to shop or plan for the Holidays.”
• “I have no desire to celebrate anything this year.”
• “I just want to close my eyes and have the holidays be over”
Holidays can be a very difficult season if you have and/or are experiencing the death of someone. Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years, Hanukkah, Ramadan, Kwanzaa, are a few of the annual holidays that are hard to navigate because of the memories, togetherness, good times, and traditions that will never be the same again as the result of losing a loved one. Holidays bring the overwhelming pain of our loss and the realization that our lives have been changed forever. Watching others experience thankfulness and family celebrations and traditions can add to our sorrow and loneliness.
One of the first steps in coping with grief at the holidays is to acknowledge that the first holiday season is very difficult. Sometimes, anticipation of a holiday can be more difficult than the day itself. There is no easy way to walk your journey. Know that you are not alone.
Coping Tools for Grief at the Holidays
• Allow yourself to feel joy, sadness, anger – allow yourself to grieve.
• Surround yourself with people who love and support you.
• Draw comfort from doing for others.
• Set realistic expectations for yourself rather than having others set them for you
• Try to avoid “canceling” the holiday despite the temptation.
• Take proper self-care in your daily choices.
• Experiment and create new traditions or rituals that accommodate your current situation.
Dr. James Coyle serves as the Director of Human Relations and Outreach at Iowa Cremation. His life's work has been focused on "helping people get to a better place." Dr. Coyle offers a variety of community outreach and grief support programs and tools. For more information, about Dr. Coyle's programs, please visit our page, Staff Development and Awareness Training.