Navigating the Grief Process During the Holidays

Mother consoling daughter.

The Holidays are supposed to be a time when family comes together, everybody is happy to be in each other’s presence, and time is spent reminiscing about some of the best memories. But when a death has happened in the family, many people do not know how to navigate the grief that they are feeling during a time that is supposed to be so happy.

When the Holidays Aren’t so Happy

An article from by Karen Mathis, a Licensed Master Social Worker with Inpatient Hospice at North Mississippi Medical Center, further explains the family’s grieving process during the Holidays. She writes that grief is defined as “mental suffering or distress over affliction or loss” and the five stages of it are denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Although, this process can be a little different for everybody.

Karen says that families need to be supportive of each person’s grieving process and understand that they may not all be in the same stage at the same time. Due to the memories associated with the Holidays, the season can also make the grieving process worse.

Since the Holidays are meant for celebrating and being happy, many grieving people may feel bad about having fun and enjoying it. Karen suggests that instead of avoiding your negative feelings, embrace it along with your other family members — everyone is going through the same thing. Take time to talk about your loved one together as a family.

Don’t block out your loved one during the Holidays to make it less sad; it will result in making the Holiday more stressful. Don’t take a year off or stop old traditions that remind you of your loved one; use this time to be reminded of your loved one and your memories.

Discuss new traditions that can be implemented into your current traditions of ways that you can honor your loved one. Karen suggests volunteering, lighting a candle at the dinner table, or accentuating their most loved traditions.

The best thing to do is not to ignore any feelings; be open, talk to each other, and remember your loved one publicly.

Try to use these techniques during the Holiday season so that you do not approach the Holiday season with feelings of dread. Always know that you can join local support groups or talked to other loved ones going through the same thing. Never be afraid to ask for help.

Erica D'Arcangelo is an Internet Marketing Expert and co-owner of Fresh, Healthy & Fit where she is a regular contributor. Erica has been active in the health and fitness industry through spinning, yoga, HITT training and much more over the last decade. She's a fitness enthusiast and has also helped others with healthy living through her own blog.