Easing holiday grief when loved ones are gone

December 10, 2012
Easing holiday grief when loved ones are gone
Expert suggests starting new traditions to honor the departed -- and taking care of yourself.

(HealthDay)—The holiday season can be a difficult time when someone you love has died, but there are ways to deal with your grief during this time of year, an expert says.

"There are so many traditions associated with the that it can be an emotional roller coaster for someone who has recently lost a loved one," Nancy Kiel, bereavement coordinator for Loyola University Health System in Maywood, Ill., said in a university news release.

"Many people wish they could just fast forward through the holidays, but getting through the season is possible if you give yourself permission to be flexible," she added.

Difficult moments will occur, but Kiel offered some ways to help ease grief during the holidays.

Discuss plans as a family and understand that it's OK to change traditions. If the change doesn't work out, next year you can go back to the way you did things before.

You might want to start a new tradition to honor and remember your loved one, Kiel suggested. For example, light a special candle, have everyone share a favorite memory or get everyone to take part in your loved one's favorite holiday activity. Do something that would make your loved one smile, she said.

Forget about going to the mall to shop, which can be stressful even at the best of times. Instead, consider giving gift cards or shopping online, Kiel said.

Parties and social events might be more difficult to deal with, so remember that you can say no to invitations. If you go, drive yourself so you can leave at your discretion. When you're socializing, try to avoid what Kiel called "should people" who say, "You should do this," or "You should do that."

Do what you feel you need to do and pamper yourself. For example, take a when you feel the need or have a bubble bath to relax. Be sure to exercise, which is a great stress reliever. Keeping a journal can be another helpful way to deal with your feelings.

"Grief is hard work and it can be exhausting, but it is something we must do," Kiel said. "If you put it on a back burner, you'll never heal. You can't go around, over or under grief—you have to go through it. So find someone who will listen unconditionally and tell your story."

Explore further: Stop Stressing and Enjoy the Holiday Season, MU Expert Offers Tips

More information: The U.S. National Institutes of Health has more about coping with grief.

Related Stories

Holidays not so bright for some

November 18, 2010

For most people, the holiday season is traditionally a time for giving thanks and celebrating, but for many, holidays can be lonely, discouraging times of isolation.

Surviving the Christmas blues

December 13, 2010

Christmas is a time of strong emotions, reflections on lost loved ones and stress from shopping and preparing for seasonal parties and gatherings.

Pinball as a model for dealing with grief

September 14, 2012

The process of grieving can be compared to the workings of a pinball machine, where mourners' movement between different stages of grief such as shock and depression may be unpredictable, according to authors writing in September's ...

Grief expert offers tips on holiday survival

November 21, 2012

Ornaments glistening on a pine tree, carols filling the air, shoppers scurrying through stores and the smell of goodies baking in the oven - it's the holidays. For many this truly is the most wonderful time of the year. Still, ...

Dial down your holiday stress

November 22, 2012

(HealthDay)—From crowded shopping malls to unpaid bills to an onslaught of out-of-town guests, the holidays can cause overwhelming stress. One way to remain calm is to manage unrealistic expectations, experts advise.

Recommended for you

Sleep makes relearning faster and longer-lasting

August 22, 2016

Getting some sleep in between study sessions may make it easier to recall what you studied and relearn what you've forgotten, even 6 months later, according to new findings from Psychological Science, a journal of the Association ...

Psychosis associated with low levels of physical activity

August 25, 2016

A large international study of more than 200,000 people in nearly 50 countries has revealed that people with psychosis engage in low levels of physical activity, and men with psychosis are over two times more likely to miss ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.