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Answer Nurse: Coping with Grief During the Holidays

Happiness senior woman getting a red Christmas Present from a mature nurse.


My husband passed away earlier this year, and I’m still coping with his death. My family is trying to cheer me up for the holiday season, but I’m not sure how I’ll feel about celebrating. What is some advice to get me through the holidays?
Although our families are well intentioned, grieving is a very personal process, and the holidays can be an especially difficult time for this process. Every person grieves in their own way and on their own timeline. Grief expert, David Kessler, offers some tips and advice on how to cope with loss during the holidays.

Start new traditions. Even though you’ve been celebrating the holidays a certain way for years, you now have the opportunity to evaluate which of your traditions still work for you and which do not. It’s your right to change your mind on how and with whom you want to celebrate the holiday season.

Always have a Plan B. As you make plans, have an alternate plan in place in case you change your mind last minute. Even if your Plan B is simply watching a movie or calling a friend, sometimes just knowing that you have an exit strategy to turn to will provide enough comfort.

Cancel the holidays. Maybe this isn’t the year you celebrate the holidays. It’s OK to tell your family that you are taking a break this season. The best part about the holiday season is that it will happen again next year. If it’s too hard or you don’t feel like you are getting any joy from celebrating, then take the year off.

Externalize the loss. Designate a specific time and place to celebrate your loved one. Say a special prayer during your meal, light a candle in their memory, do an act of service in their honor or share stories about them at family gatherings.

It’s ok to be grieving during the holiday season. Don’t try to limit yourself or hold in what you need let out. If you need more support during this time, tell those you love. Most importantly, remember that you will get through this holiday season.

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