Handling Grief During The Holidays

With colder temperatures, and reduced sunlight, the winter season ordinarily brings about increased rates of depression, according to health experts. This year, however, the combination of the pandemic, shared and individual grief may be especially overwhelming at the holidays. 

2020 has seen the tragic loss of numerous Black icons which paralleled the loss of loved ones in our families, and those in our communities taken by racial injustice. 

America reached a grim milestone in the coronavirus pandemic following Thanksgiving, surpassing 300,000 deaths, and growing nationwide surges in reported coronavirus cases.

To implement the coronavirus safety guidelines recommended by CDC health officials, and address the grief brought on by this year, experts suggest allowing yourself to feel a range of emotions. 

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. 

As with everything this year, 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, can be a “tangible reminder” of their love. 

Holidays are often the only time some families gather, creating memories, and sharing meals together. But, with more states imposing stricter guidelines ahead of the winter holidays, gathering and providing comfort in person may not be an option to cope with the losses of this year. 

If you aren’t fatigued by virtual meet-ups, try setting one up with friends and families. You can try to set out some time to share your favorite memories, photos, and stories of a shared loved one you’ve lost.

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.

Photo: Getty Images

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