Coping With Grief During the Holidays

Coping With Grief During the Holidays

During the holidays, we must remember this time of year can be especially difficult for those who have experienced loss. It can be tough to cope with grief during the holiday season, particularly if it's the first holiday after a loved one has passed away. For others each subsequent holiday serves as a constant reminder of their absence.

As we reflect on loss and grief during the holiday season, we should also acknowledge the anniversary of the tragic mass shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14, 2012. This was one of the deadliest school shootings in US history, with 28 victims, the majority of whom were young children, and six adults. The teachers at Sandy Hook were heroes that day, bravely risking their own lives to protect and care for their students. The incident was heart breaking and so is the pain and struggles the families of the victims have gone through in the years since.

The holiday season is often a time of joy and excitement for families, as they prepare for Christmas by picking out the perfect tree, decorating their homes, stringing lights, and making sure their children will receive special gifts from Santa. But the events at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14 shattered that joy and excitement for many families. The loss of a child is an unimaginable devastation, as it's hard to imagine how any other holiday could ever be the same after such a loss.

As Christmas approaches, I can't help but hold my 8-year-old daughter a little closer as I think of the families affected by the tragedy at Sandy Hook, as well as other families who have experienced loss. It's important to remember there's no timeline for healing a broken heart, and people may be hurting during the holidays even if their loss occurred years ago. The question is not just how to cope during this time, but also how we can support and help those who are grieving.

Here are some ideas to consider for those coping with loss around the holidays:

  • Allow yourself to feel and express your emotions during the holidays. It's natural to experience a range of emotions, you may feel happy one moment and sad the next. Give yourself grace and space to feel and process these emotions, rather than trying to suppress them or push them away.

  • Surround yourself with people who love and support you. It's okay to ask for help and to lean on others for support. You don't have to go through this difficult time alone. Reach out to friends and family members who are there for you, and don't be afraid to seek help from a therapist or a support group if you need it.

  • It's understandable to want to hold onto old traditions during the holiday season, especially if they were meaningful to you and your loved ones. However, it's also important to recognize that after experiencing a loss, your "new normal" may be different and you may need to make adjustments to your holiday traditions. It's okay to shift and adapt these traditions, or even create new ones that feel more comfortable and meaningful for you.

  • One of the best ways to bring happiness and meaning to your life is by helping others. There are many ways to do this, whether it's volunteering your time and talents or donating to a worthy cause. Not only can this bring joy to your own life, but it can also be a meaningful way to honor and remember your loved one. By paying it forward and reaching out to others, you can find comfort and meaning amid your grief.

As we celebrate Christmas and remember the true meaning for the season, let's also show kindness and compassion towards others. You never know what someone else may be going through, and a small act of kindness can go a long way in brightening someone's day. Whether it's a friendly smile, a thoughtful gesture, or a simple act of generosity, we can all make a positive impact on those around us.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays.