Managing grief during the festive season

Written by Bernadette Dekker 

Senior Mental Health Occupational Therapist at Little Window

The festive season can feel pretty awful when you’ve lost someone you care about.

However, there are a few things you can do over the holidays that will improve your emotional wellbeing and help you cope.

If you’re feeling low, remember that there’s always someone you can talk to.

Why festivities such as Christmas are particularly tough

Major festivities are often a time when people get together with family and friends, so if you’ve lost someone you love, this time can be a pretty stark reminder of that. While everyone reacts differently, a lot of people find this time difficult.

Ideas for coping

This may have been a time you usually spent with the person you’ve lost, so it’s completely normal to feel sad that they’re no longer with you. You may react more sensitively to things or feel detached from those around you.

Things you can do that might help

  • Allow yourself some time out to feel sad and think about the person you love.
  • Think about all the things you liked about the person.
  • Do something that you used to do together.
  • Write a letter to the person.
  • Revisit a favourite spot where you spent time together.
  • Share some of your memories of them with others.

It’s okay to enjoy this time

You might find it difficult to celebrate when you’re missing someone you love. You might experience a whole range of emotions, including sadness, guilt, or even excitement. Getting together with family and close friends may be a chance to remember the good times and to laugh. Remember, having fun isn’t a sign that you don’t miss the person you’ve lost.

Look after yourself

Accept that this could be a tough time for you and that you might need to treat yourself with a bit of extra care. If possible, make some time each day to treat yourself to something you enjoy. Here are some things you might try:

  • Go to the beach or the park.
  • Go for a walk.
  • Kick a footie.
  • Listen to music.
  • Go shopping.
  • Have a massage.
  • Hang out with friends.