Holidays can be a wonderful time of year. Commonly, this is a time to gather and celebrate with family and friends. For someone who has experienced the death of a loved one, those sights, sounds and smells remind them of what they don’t have this holiday season. The emotions and physical reactions of grief may affect them more strongly than anticipated," says Jessie Wolf, licensed independent clinical social worker at Mayo Clinic Health System.
Be aware of and acknowledge the emotions and physical reactions experienced. People facing grief may be tempted to isolate because being around people takes a lot of effort. They may feel sad, easily overwhelmed, sapped of energy, tearful and angry. Having these feelings during the holiday season can be hard, but know feeling this way is acceptable. Responses such as these show how much you love and miss your friend or family member.
Things to remember
Wolf explains some things to consider when feeling or witnessing holiday grief:
Helping to memorialize a person who has died can be cathartic and bring joy to a potentially challenging holiday season. Remember your loved one as a family or friend group — make their favorite food, share memories at the table, leave their favorite spot at the table open, go through scrapbook or light a memorial candle. Additionally, you could donate a gift to charity in your loved one’s honor or do something nice for someone else in their memory. Choose to do something that’s special to you and your late loved one.
"If your symptoms feel unmanageable or you need additional support, please connect with a mental health or primary care provider," says Wolf.