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Dealing With Grief During the Holiday Season

10 things to help get you through this difficult time

5. Plan ahead. Sometimes the anticipation is worse than the actual holiday. Create comforting activities in the weeks approaching a holiday so that you have something to look forward to rather than building up a dread of the pain the holiday could bring. New activities might be easier, but familiar traditions might be comforting as well — do what feels best for you. Surrounding yourself with positivity can be very helpful.

6. Scale back. If the thought of many holiday activities feels painful, overwhelming or inappropriate this year, cutting back may help. For example, you might opt for minimal decorations at home and take a break from sending holiday greetings, or try e-greetings instead of the more time-consuming task of mailing greeting cards. You could limit holiday parties to small gatherings with your closest friends and family. Do whatever feels safe and comfortable to you. Create realistic expectations for yourself and others, but above all be gentle with yourself.

7. Give. It's amazing how in times of grief, sometimes the biggest comfort is to give to others. We often feel paralyzed by the sheer emotion — sadness, feelings of helpless or hopelessness. In times of loss, we often want to do something that will make a difference. Consider these options:

  • If you've lost a loved one, gift-giving at holiday times may be a challenge. Shopping for gifts and seeing the perfect gift for someone you know you will never be able to give a gift to again can be devastating. Shopping online may be a better option for you.
  • You might purchase something that symbolizes the person or time before your loss and donate it to a needy family. Or make a donation in a loved one's name to a charity or cause he or she cherished.
  • Negative circumstances may surround the loss you have experienced, and it's so easy to fall into a focus on the sadness, horror or anger. Try channeling your energies in positive ways to create good in the world, rather than perpetuate the negative. Volunteer to help people in some way that is related to that which has caused such anguish. Give of your time and talents or make a donation to a related charity.

Next page: Ways to acknowledge those who have passed on. »

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