Dr. Messina & Associates counseling and psychiatric services in southlake and flower mound
A person sitting in front of another person.

Grief and the Holidays: Tips for Coping and Healing

Table of Contents

Whether it’s been years since you’ve lost your loved one or it’s been recent, grief is something that never goes away. Holidays often trigger the loss you’ve experienced, and you can feel very alone in your grief as those around you are festively celebrating.

Nothing can take away your intense feelings of grief — you’ve lost someone you love and that pain is genuine. Our experienced Southlake and Flower Mound therapists offer some hope for you in dealing with grief this season. While we never wish to diminish your feelings, the following tips may help you cope healthily this season and develop a game plan ahead of the holidays.

Talk About Your Grief

Keeping your feelings bottled up is never a good idea no matter what. Instead, allow yourself to process your feelings by expressing them with people you feel safe around. If you are unable to share, journaling your feelings also allows you to release the emotional weight you are carrying.

Say Your Loved One’s Name

We often hear from our patients that they miss saying or hearing their loved one’s name after they’ve died. It may feel like those around you avoid mentioning their name, perhaps out of concern for causing distress or pain. Feel free to bring up your loved one’s name in conversations this holiday season by sharing your favorite memories.

Develop New Traditions

After the death of a family member or friend, we often don’t know how to deal with hosting or attending a typical family holiday event because the hole left behind by our loved ones is so apparent — especially at these traditional family affairs. Don’t feel like you have to do anything because it is expected or because “We’ve always done it this way.” Allow yourself the freedom to create new traditions as you see fit. For example, if you and your family always went to Grandma’s for Christmas, but not having your family member there is too difficult, perhaps make this the Christmas you go away on a special trip. This can end up being the best gift that you give to yourself.

Cherish Your Memories

As the holidays near, reminisce about the good times with your family, including the one who isn’t here. Think of ways to mix old memories with new. If there was a Christmas stocking you hung up for them, pull it out and recall the happy Christmases of years past that you had with them. Here’s the new tradition: ask your other family members to write a note sharing what they loved most or a happy memory about your deceased family member. On Christmas Day, you could read all of the notes aloud or treasure them alone.

Be Kind to Yourself

Grief is a rollercoaster of emotions naturally. As you know, holidays can make it even harder. Emotions can affect you physically as well, so taking good care of yourself during this time is essential. Ensure that you maintain a healthy diet and engage in gentle exercise, such as walking, to support your mental and physical well-being during this challenging period. And get plenty of sleep! By taking care of your body, you can better cope with your grief and be the best version of yourself.

Don’t Stress the Small Things (or Big Ones)

This is not the time to take on more than you can emotionally handle. If you normally host a holiday family dinner and don’t feel you can add that to your plate this year, ask another family member to host instead. Don’t feel you have to keep up appearances when you might be suffering inside. Your family members should be understanding, gracious, and loving during this period. We aren’t suggesting you isolate yourself, but you should be mindful of what you can do.

You Call the Shots

When you’ve lost a loved one, it reminds us that we are not in control. And that loss (and loss of control) is an unsettling feeling. One thing you can control is what you choose to participate in when it comes to holiday events. Often, our society thinks that more is better when it comes to the holidays. Our calendars get piled quickly with cookie exchanges, White Elephant parties, caroling escapades, parties, charity galas, and more. And that doesn’t even count the actual day of Christmas or Hanukkah. Instead of saying “yes” to everything, choose carefully what you enjoy doing so you don’t overextend yourself.

Surround Yourself With Supportive Family and Friends

Connect with friends and family members who are compassionate and non-judgmental. Their willingness to listen can provide solace and sharing your feelings will often make you feel better. Let those around you know your preferences and boundaries. If certain traditions or activities are too overwhelming, don’t be afraid to adjust or opt out. True friends and understanding family members will respect your decisions and provide the space you need to navigate this challenging time.

Attend Grief Counseling Sessions or a Grief Support Group

During challenging times of grief, attending counseling sessions or joining a support group can be an invaluable source of help. Grief can be an overwhelming and complex journey, and professional guidance can provide clarity and emotional support. Trained grief therapists can offer you strategies to cope with your grief and navigate the holiday season. Additionally, grief support groups allow you to connect with others who are experiencing similar feelings, creating a network of understanding and compassion. By actively participating in grief counseling or support groups, you’re taking a proactive step in your healing process, ensuring you don’t have to face grief alone.

You’re never alone in your grief — we’re here to help.

Let us be a part of your support system, helping you discover hope and healing during this holiday season. At Dr. Messina & Associates, our compassionate therapists and grief counselors are here for you. Whether you need someone to talk to or guidance through grief counseling, we stand by your side. Reach out today and take the first step toward finding comfort during the holidays.


Picture of Dr. Michael Messina

Dr. Michael Messina

Scroll to Top