Creative Arts Therapy Source | New York and New Jersey_Creative Arts Therapy Source | New York and New Jersey

As I said in a recent post: From Halloween to New Year’s Day, we’re expected to be in celebration mode. This is easier said than done for most adults (and some children). For anyone who is grieving, the holiday season can feel impossible. How in the world does anyone expect you to be on a happy face, sing carols, and exchange gifts?

Of course, you have every right to set boundaries. We’ll get to that shortly. But it’s not just about saying no. Indeed, with some mindful preparation and social support, you can find a delicate balance during the holidays. 

3 Ways To Handle Grief During The Holidays

1. Don’t Pretend That You’re Fine

Many of the people in your life wait all year for the holidays. They throw parties and some even make special trips to visit. This makes it extra daunting to be the one who is just not in the mood to celebrate. It’s not all about me, you tell yourself as you put on a brave face.

Well, there are two ways to look at this concept:

  • The people who matter will understand: Sure, you will hear some inevitable wisecracks about being a party pooper. But those who know you, however, get it. Confide in them. Ask for support. Trust them to be there when needed.
  • You may actually be “fine” in small bursts: Believe it or not, you will experience some fun moments. Allow them to happen without guilt or shame. There is no rule stating that bereavement is 24/7. 

2. Pace Yourself and Set Boundaries 

You do not have to accept every invitation. In fact, no one does. It may seem others are partying seven days a week but they are pacing themselves, too. Keep this in mind when deciding where and when to allocate energy. If you see it as all or nothing, of course, the holiday season will feel like torture. You absolutely can pick and choose when to let your hair down a little.

3. Allow Yourself to Have Some Fun Anyway

This particular tip is in your hands. People close to you will understand the situation. But will you be okay if you find yourself smiling or laughing at some point? Will it feel disrespectful to the person who died if you have a drink or allow yourself one dance? It’s only disrespectful if you decide it is. 

Our minds can balance multiple emotions at once. So, give it a try. See how it feels to have some moments of holiday cheer amidst the bereavement. The choice is entirely yours. There is no one “correct” way to grieve so let go of worrying about what others will think? You are free to turn down a particular invite so you can stay home and cry. But, you are also free to say yes to another invite and give yourself some room to feel some joy. 

Grief is Tough Any Time of the Year

Someone you loved has passed away. You feel intense sorrow but you also feel lost. You still have a love for them but it’s not always easy knowing what to do with it. Yes, these emotions are particularly tricky during a festive season of celebration. But do not understand the impact or grief all year round. 

This is why so many people opt to speak with a therapist. Committing to regularly seeing a professional is a proven way to process the grief and reimagine your place in the world. You’ll never stop missing the person but you can learn how to channel that sense of loss in a healthy manner. If grief is making you feel stuck and lost, I’d love to talk with you soon and help you with grief counseling.

Creative Arts Therapy Source offers in-person therapy on Long Island. Online therapy is available across New York & New Jersey.