Dr’s Tips: Ways to Cope With The Loss of a Loved One During the Holidays

For many, the holidays are the time of year when we hope to create new and happy memories while spending quality time with the people we love.  We aim to enjoy the positive feelings the season brings.

For those who have experienced a loss, the holidays may not feel as blissful.  It is the time of year that they miss their loved one the most, and the traditional indicators (decorations, parties, etc.) of the season can cause them to feel sad or alone. These emotions can become increasingly overwhelming, making it difficult to cope with grief.

While everyone handles grief differently, there are practical things they can do to help them cope with a sense of loss during the holidays.  Dr. Gina Basello, Associate Director of the Hospice and Palliative Medicine Fellowship and Vice Chair of the Department of Family Medicine at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center, advises, “Dealing with the loss of a loved one is challenging and the pain can be overwhelming.  While there is no right or wrong way to grieve, there are healthy ways to cope with that pain.”  Here are a few of Dr. Basello’s recommendations:

  • Allow yourself to feel- There are various emotions associated with grief. After losing a loved one you may feel, sad, angry or helpless. Don’t feel bad if happy things make you feel unhappy. Whatever your emotions are, recognize them and accept them as part of your grieving process.
  • Express how you feel- Acknowledging your emotions is a great first step. Now that you have identified how you feel, you should express those feelings. Talking to a friend, family member or a trusted health professional is helpful.  Do not be afraid or embarrassed to ask for their support; they can help with your healing process.
  • Take care of yourself- Now is the time that you should be most in touch with your mental and physical health. If you are experiencing symptoms of anxiety or depression for prolonged periods of time, seek help right away from loved ones or a mental health professional.  Staying on top of your physical health can also help you through this time; exercise, eat a healthy diet and get adequate amounts of sleep.
  • Create new traditions –Creating new traditions in memory of loved ones can help you stay positive and can provide opportunities to find meaningful ways to remember those you have lost.

The holidays can certainly be a difficult after experiencing a loss.  Paying attention to the way you feel and applying these positive approaches to coping can help you through the season.  However, if you continue to feel overwhelmed, do not hesitate to seek the assistance of a professional who is trained to help during your time of bereavement.

All content of this newsletter is intended for general information purposes only and is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Please consult a medical professional before adopting any of the suggestions on this page. You must never disregard professional medical advice or delay seeking medical treatment based upon any content of this newsletter. PROMPTLY CONSULT YOUR PHYSICIAN OR CALL 911 IF YOU BELIEVE YOU HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY.