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How to Cope with Grief this Holiday Season

The heartache of missing someone who has died can become even more painful as the holiday season comes upon us. For those still dealing with the death of a family member or dear friend, formerly joyous moments can result in waves of grief. Christmas music, holiday parties and festive decorations meant to bring happiness can serve as reminders of loss.

The reality is there will always be sad moments during the holiday season for those who are grieving, but there are things you can do to help make space for your grief and ease the pain.

Remember them. Although it may be difficult to let yourself think about the person you have lost, doing so will help you heal. Reliving past holidays and happy moments can be difficult because then you have to acknowledge and accept he or she is gone – something that is out of your control. Remembering allows you to look beyond the loss and call to mind the person as he or she lived.

Acknowledge your feelings. Don’t be afraid to talk about your loved one. It’s okay to feel angry, upset, mad, or any other emotion that sets in. Talk about your loss and share how you feel with a friend or family member that allows you to be true to your feelings. Grief is different for everyone. Cope the way that works best for you. Just make sure your choices are healthy and that you seek help if needed.

Start new traditions. While the old traditions may still be cherished and celebrated, new ones that focus on honoring those we have lost help ring in the next chapter of hope. Consider hanging a memory stocking or ornament, lighting a candle or donating to a charity in honor of the one you mourn.

Practice self-care. Self-care is crucial for your physical and emotional well-being. If you are battling grief, you need to take care of yourself. Self-care is important to find balance and maintain a healthy relationship with yourself as you move through the different stages of grief and healing. Take the time to do something for yourself and don’t be afraid to say no to others. Let the people closest to you know that this is a difficult time for you and that you may need more support than usual.

Make healthy choices. It is common to replace the loss with the comfort of food and drink. With the multitude of holiday food indulgences available around every corner, try to make healthy food choices as much as possible. Know your boundaries. It is more important than ever to eat well and exercise regularly to maintain healthy stress levels.

Seek help. There are no set rules and everyone grieves in her or her own way and time. Trust your instincts. If your grief is so overwhelming or you find it difficult to cope, seek support from family, friends or a health care professional. There is no shame in asking for help.