Grief During the Holiday Season: Making It Through

This year has been a challenging one to say the least. Grief over lost time with loved ones in long-term care is understandable. Also, not being able to say goodbye to a loved one due to quarantine restrictions certainly causes pain and anguish. The holiday season can amplify these feelings.

Making It Through

It may seem that the holidays are a time to survive, not enjoy. The sounds that accompany the holidays, including songs and bells ringing, can help or hinder. Sometimes it may feel helpful to have all of the distractions that the holidays bring. In other ways, it makes the loss of a loved one more obvious.

In getting through the holidays while grieving, there are some important things to consider. How many social appointments do you have to keep? Give yourself permission to stay home if that helps. Keep in mind that there may be friends and family members who do not understand your grief. There may be those who cannot handle your grief. Attending events with a friend who can support you can help.

What to Expect

You might experience unexpected moments of grief. Remember that grief does not resolve itself in a linear way. Even if there has been several months since your loss, grief can emerge unexpectedly. Be kind to yourself if or when this happens.

If possible, talk to your family members about ways to acknowledge the loved one during the holidays. Be patient with them as they encounter grief. They might not be willing to acknowledge the loss. Remember that we all grieve and recover in our own ways.

Even though it has been several years since my mother died, I still miss her and grieve her loss. I have my own ways to acknowledge her. During the holidays, I typically buy a package of her favorite holiday candy. Just having it in the house helps me remember her. Despite how strange that may sound, it brings me comfort. Once you give yourself permission to grieve and honor loved ones in your own way, you can help the healing process.

Kathy Dreyer, Ph.D., is an Advisor at AGE-u-cate® Training Institute, which develops and delivers innovative research-based aging and dementia training programs such as Dementia Live® and Compassionate Touch®, for professional and family caregivers; kathy.dreyer@ageucate.com

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