Center for Shared Insight, PC

Overcoming Holiday Grief

December 16, 2019
Posted By: Kristen Hick, Psy.D.

Whether it’s due to the loss of a relationship, death of a loved one this year, your parenting plan results in less time with your kids, or other unwanted changes you’ve endured in the past year, the holidays aren’t a happy time for everyone. When you are surrounded by music suggesting that “it’s the most wonderful time of the year” but you feel a little more like - “Can the holidays be over soon...” - that disconnect can make your grief and sadness even more intense. 

If your holidays are heavy with loss, pain, sadness, or even disappointment about an aspect of your life, recognize that you are not alone. At Center for Shared Insight in Denver, Colorado, we work with individuals to help identify the roots of holiday grief and ways to overcome it. Here are some ways to cope with these difficult feelings at the holidays.

Honor Your Feelings

When you give yourself permission to feel and name what you are experiencing, you also make it okay to feel what you are feeling. This can be done by simply naming your emotions, writing them down, or even sharing them with a close, trusted friend. Try describing what it is you feel in your body, such as a heavy heart, weight on your shoulders, or pain in your stomach in order to really own and honor how you are experiencing these intense emotions. Don’t judge yourself for feeling what you are feeling, spin up a story that you’ll always feel this way, or beat yourself up for whatever situation made you feel this way. Instead, live in your emotions for a short period of time as a way to move through them. This can specifically be an effective way to manage your emotions if those emotions, such as anger or blame, are directed at someone else (an ex-partner, an absent parent, and others).

Validate Your Needs

Once you own your emotions and begin to accept and make peace with what you are feeling, it’s time to validate the related needs. For instance, if you are feeling empty and alone after a divorce or break-up that happened recently, or even years ago, begin honoring your feelings (such as regret, sadness, or anger). From there, validate the needs you have related to these emotions. Those needs might be to spend time with like-minded people to boost your mood, to reduce your drinking over the holidays so you can stay attuned to what you are feeling, or to make an effort to make new, healthy connections during this time. Get clear about what you need by being specific about the types of experiences you feel will result in the best holiday season possible.

Choose New Traditions 

When you are struggling with isolation during the holidays because you are single, or feeling disconnected from others in your life, consider how you may be able to use new traditions in your holidays. A fresh start with events and commitments that could be more fulfilling and aligned with your true needs and values could replace painful memories with more gratifying experiences, despite having a solo holiday. For instance, if your memories of holidays with your ex were also full of indulgence in food and alcohol, you might find it helpful to choose a community yoga class to attend on Christmas morning and surround yourself with other individuals who are choosing a healthy holiday of reflection, mindfulness, and presence. No matter what new traditions you choose to begin, make sure they are healthy, nurturing, and result in self-care during this difficult time. Transform your grief into positive changes in your life.

At Center for Shared Insight, we can help you learn to identify, own, and validate your feelings as part of the healing process. Whether you are struggling with loss of a relationship, unmet expectations about your life, death of a loved one, or other pain around the holidays, our team of therapists can support your grief and help you choose new traditions that can result in healing around the holidays. We start with a free consultation to dive into your unique feelings and challenges. Call today to speak with an intake coordinator and get started.

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