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Five Tips for Surviving Grief and the Holidays

by Vicki DellaSperanza


This time of year is often associated with celebration and family, but for many ‘tis the season for emotions. Here are five tips for coping with grief when you’re missing a loved one due to death, divorce, a romantic break-up or other estrangement.

1. Don’t isolate yourself. It’s normal and natural to feel lost and alone but don’t isolate even if you must force yourself to be with people. Show up at the company holiday party or your neighbor’s open house for a set amount of time, then leave. When I’m grieving, I give myself approximately twenty minutes to mingle. I set my phone on vibrate and set the timer. When the timer goes off, I decide whether to stay or graciously excuse myself.

2. Avoid using food or alcohol to camouflage your feelings. As children, when we were sad about something, we were often told, “Here have a cookie, you’ll feel better.” The cookie didn’t make us feel better, it was a diversion and the real cause of the sadness was not addressed. When we get older, alcohol and drugs are used for the same wrong reasons?to mask feelings of sadness.

3. Ask to be heard, not fixed. Reach out to a trusted friend or loved one and talk about your feelings. But first, explain what you need. Consider something like this: “I don’t expect or want you to fix me. I’m sad, not broken. When you listen to me, I feel heard and validated. That’s really all that I need right now.”

4. Allow for moments of sadness but do your best not to dwell on them. Repeatedly telling the same sad story either out loud or silently can cement a relationship to your pain. Try making a simple statement of how you feel in the moment such as “I just had a sad feeling of missing him.” Or, use the technique described above in #1. Give yourself a set amount of time to be in your feelings. The alarm is your signal that it’s time to let go, at least for now.

5. Stuff the turkey, not your feelings. Go through the pain, not under, over, or around it. Dance it out. Punch pillows. Make ferocious animal noises. For a foolproof way to be branded as the cool aunt or uncle, invite the kids to participate.

Vicki DellaSperanza is a Certified Grief Recovery Specialist© and ordained Interfaith/Interspiritual Minister. She will meet you with compassion wherever you are in your grief journey. Contact her today for a free 15-minute consultation and E-Book Guide to Loss at vicki@thriveafterloss.com  or 413-244-8368.


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