Coping With Grief During the Holidays

Coping With Grief During the Holidays

Many of us look forward to the holidays as a happy time. However, things have been very different for most of us in the past 2 years during the COVID-19 pandemic. And many families have lost loved ones during this time.

We want to take a few moments to acknowledge that the holidays can be a time where many of us may feel both joy and sorrow. And we want to offer some ideas for families that are navigating complicated feelings of loss and grief during this holiday season whether it be the loss of a loved one or the inability to be with family and friends.

    • Explore what feels best: Every family copes with loss differently and some activities and traditions might be too hard right now. Discuss as a family what feels right for you during this time.
      • Some families may decide to turn down big holiday events or traditions as it may be too much. It’s ok to say no to events and activities or to change plans at the last minute.
      • Other families may find it helpful to continue with holiday engagements or to explore new holiday traditions.
    • Celebrate differently:  We have all learned how to be flexible and do things differently in the past two years. We have had to let go of some traditions and make new ones. This can be especially important when you are also coping with grief. This may be a good year to not cook a big holiday meal and order in instead. Or maybe skip decorating the whole front yard and instead cut out snowflakes with your kids for a few windows.
    • Do something to remember your loved one: You may want to start a new holiday activity in honor of your loved one. You could create a memorial ornament in honor of them. Or light a candle in their honor. Or you talk about or write down and share memories of your loved one.
    • Connect to others through volunteering: There are often many opportunities during the holidays to do something for others in your community who may be in need. You can give or volunteer in memory of a loved one or for a cause that was important to them.
    • Allow yourselves time and space: Grieving is a process and right now, there is a lot of extra uncertainty and stress that can make the process feel even harder. It will take time and there may be moments when you or your kids just need to take some time to lie down, or read a book, or spend some time alone, even in the middle of celebrating the holidays. Do what feels right for you.

It is hard to cope with grief at any time, especially during the holidays during a pandemic. Remember to be kind to yourself and your family and reach out to others if you need help.

Text: © Kids In Transition to School 2021

Image: © Sagasan | Dreamstime.com

Katherine Pears
Dr. Katherine Pears is a senior scientist at Oregon Social Learning Center (OSLC). She earned her Ph.D in clinical psychology and has worked with OSLC since 1998. Katherine is the principal investigator and co-developer of the Kids In Transition to Schools (KITS) program. Currently, she oversees all the clinical and research activities for KITS. When she’s not in her office, you’ll find Katherine in the kitchen whipping up her latest creation or outdoors hiking a scenic trail.

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