Helpful Tips for Coping with the Holidays

Acknowledge that Grieving is Work:

Adjustment to the death of a loved one takes a lot of energy and can leave you feeling unable to fully meet all of the extra demands that come with the holiday season. Be realistic as to how much you can take on and delegate things that you do not feel able to do.

Some helpful tips from other grievers include: avoid stores and crowds by ordering gifts through catalogues or on-line; have a few “extras” in case of emergencies; buy prepared foods this year or choose one dish you enjoy making and delegate the rest.

Recognize that Anticipation is Usually Worse than Reality:

The holidays will bring up memories and your loved one’s absence will be felt. Tears and sadness do not have to ruin the holiday for you and others – it is okay to have moments of laughter and tears. If you are triggered, let yourself have a good cry and you will typically find that you can carry on.

Ask a friend to be a support buddy through this time and have a plan for what you will do on certain days. Often having a plan can help you feel better able to manage.

Re-evaluate Family Tradition:

Ask yourself and your loved ones to decide what is important to make your holidays meaningful and bearable. Tell others what you want and need for the holidays.

Discuss holiday tasks and responsibilities and decide what you may want to keep, what you feel able to do, and what you would like to change, knowing that nothing you do has to be continued but can just be for this year.

Light a special candle in honour of your loved one on the eve of each holiday.

Set Limits:

The holidays tend to be a time of overindulgence. You do not have to attend every party or participate in every gift exchange if you do not feel able to do it. You will likely have to communicate your limits to others, especially if they are determined not to let you be sad or alone. Pick and choose what you want to do and let others know what you need and how they can best help you.

Plan ahead. Balance time alone with time with others. If no one has invited you to join them, be proactive and invite others to join you.

Walk softly and be gentle with yourself. Be your own kindest friend. Remember the values within the holidays. Claim and celebrate them within your life now.

Tips to Cope With Grieving

  • Cry, scream, yell – express your feelings as they come up
  • Talk to someone who will just listen. Tell stories. Share memories
  • Get regular sleep – go to bed at the same time each night even if you’re not tired (get up again if after 30-45 minutes you still can’t sleep – do an activity and then try again) then get up at the same time each day
  • Go for a walk or run. Do some physical activity each day
  • Take naps if you need them
  • Eat frequent healthy small meals and snacks – keep feeding your body
  • Drink water, juice, tea – keep yourself hydrated
  • Try a relaxation exercise
  • Listen to uplifting music
  • Sit with nature – by the river or in a quiet park – breathe in some
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