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3 Tips To Help You Cope With Grief During The Holidays

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Losing a loved one can be difficult, but the death of a loved one around the holidays can be especially troubling. Holidays are often defined by time spent together as a family, so the death of a loved one during the holiday season can be an association with serious grief.

Here are three tips you can use to help cope with grief following the death of a loved one during the holiday season.

1. Seek the help of a qualified counselor.

Many people have a hard time understanding the grieving process. Seeking the help of a qualified counselor can be beneficial when it comes to dealing with the additional stress the holiday season can bring about. Stress can trigger episodes of grieving, making it difficult to get through the holiday season. 

By visiting with a counselor, you will be able to identify the stress associated with loss-oriented activities (like crying or anger) and the stress associated with restoration-oriented activities (like developing new connections with family members and learning to fill new roles within the family). These types of stress can lead to contention within families, so learning to identify and manage them through counseling will help you avoid the arguments that can occur when grief clouds the holiday season.

2. Don't eliminate holiday traditions.

While it might seem tempting to eliminate some holiday traditions from your family's schedule, it's important that you continue these traditions in order to foster a sense of closeness with your remaining family members.

Your deceased loved one would want the family to continue spending time with one another, so maintaining long-standing holiday traditions can be cathartic in helping you deal with your grief. If you feel that old traditions will be too painful, it can also be helpful to develop a new family tradition that honors the memory of a loved one who has passed on.

3. Give yourself permission to grieve.

Many people feel that they need to put on a happy face during the holidays, even when they are feeling the extreme grief that can be associated with the loss of a loved one. In order to process your grief in a positive manner, it's essential that you give yourself permission to grieve. 

Repressing feelings of grief can lead to the development of physical health problems. Chronic psychological stress (like the stress that comes from containing your grief) can increase inflammation within the body. The last thing you want is to battle chronic congestion or coughing during the holiday season, so give yourself permission to express your grief in order to avoid the physical side effects of suppressed emotions.

Grieving during the holidays can be difficult. Seek the help of a counselor, maintain holiday traditions, and give yourself permission to feel sad if you want to positively cope with your own grief during the holiday season. Contact a counselor, such as Dr Susan Goldsmith, for more information on dealing with grief.