Handling Grief During The Holidays


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With colder temperatures, and reduced sunlight, the winter season ordinarily brings about increased rates of depression, according to health experts. Added to that is yet another going through the Covid-19 pandemic, new loss, and for many, marking a year without a loved one and other difficult milestones.

2021 has seen the tragic loss of several Black legends which paralleled the loss of loved ones in our families, and those in our communities taken by racial injustice, meaning the shared and individual grief may be especially overwhelming at the holidays. 

To address the grief brought on by this year and years past, experts suggest allowing yourself to feel a range of emotions

Feel the Feelings

A report by Psychology Today recommends that individuals lean into grief and the emotions it brings, as it may be helpful to the healing process in the long run. 

Allowing yourself to feel emotions, without judgment or feeling like you “should be happy” can create a healthy space to process emotions. 

Create Traditions of Remembrance

As with everything we've learned in the last two years, we can absolutely get creative with honoring those we lost. Lighting a candle in memory of a loved one, or even eating a food they enjoyed at the holidays, can be a “tangible reminder” of their love.

Holidays are often the only time some families gather, creating memories, and sharing meals together, opening the opportunity to honor loved ones together. Try setting out time during the family gathering to share your favorite stories about them, comb through family photos, and even talk about how you've been processing the loss.

Everyone has their own way of dealing with things, talking about it together can help "break the ice" and create closer bonds in the process.

And while Covid-19 restrictions have eased from a year ago, traveling may still be out of the question for some this year. If gathering in person isn't possible, try setting up virtual meet-ups o to share your favorite memories, photos, and stories of a shared loved one you’ve lost.

Things You Can Do for Yourself

Journaling can also be an effective tool in getting heavy emotions and thoughts out and onto on paper. Meditating, getting a good amount of sleep, and taking as best care of yourself as you can are all tools generally recommended when processing loss.

Seeking help from friends and family or professional mental health resources is also a tangible coping mechanism for handling grief. Resources like Therapy For Black Girls, and Therapy For Black Men can be used to get a mental health professional as a part of your support system. 

Acknowledging the holidays and life moving forward will be different without a loved one may be a hard and necessary step in coping. Finding healthy ways to cope and support yourself is not always easy or even doable, but can be thought of as a journey, not a destination. 

Check out more coping techniques for grief during the holidays here.

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