Dealing With Loss and Grief During the Holiday Season

Losing a loved one is one of life's greatest hardships. It is important to recognize signs of grief in us because, from there, we can get the necessary help to find healthy coping methods. Dr. Megan Spencer describes grief as a natural response to losing someone or something important. Grief occurs when a loved one passes away, you lose a job, a relationship ends, or you face a major life change such as moving or an illness. It is important to remember that everyone grieves differently; you should not feel guilty about how you choose to grieve or what feels right for you.


Are you feeling guilty about going through holiday traditions or celebrating without your loved ones? Dr. Megan provides great advice for celebrating the holidays while keeping your loved ones close:

  • Talk about the death, memories, and traditions that they were a part of, or create new traditions to continue honoring them
  • Accept your feelings – everyone grieves differently, and you should not feel guilty about how you feel
  • Do not deny or push away the feeling of being overwhelmed
  • Take care of yourself and your family – this might mean putting aside time to spend together doing something fun
  • It is okay to take a break and have time alone – there is no obligation that you must buy a certain number of gifts, go places, or see people


When to get help with grief

You may be wondering: at what point should you get help? It is important to keep track of your feelings and recognize when you may be showing signs of depression versus sadness. Dr. Megan describes depression as being longer lasting and more severe in how your previous feelings were.

  1. When you have trouble keeping up with your normal routine – this includes cooking, cleaning, and going to work
  2. If you feel like your life no longer has a purpose and you do not see a reason to live
  3. If you have the inability to stop blaming yourself or feeling guilty

If these are things you struggle with, it may be time to talk to someone. Reach out to your primary care provider – they can direct you to a place where you can meet with a professional. Even a simple Google search for therapists or psychologists within your local community will provide you with great options. And now, with telehealth gaining popularity, you can seek mental health help right from home. Remember, you should not feel ashamed or guilty about how you feel while dealing with grief. It’s important to remember that everyone grieves differently, and there is no “fix-all” for returning to a normal routine.


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