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The holiday season can be incredibly challenging for those who have experienced the loss of a loved one. Memories serve as constant reminders, and witnessing others celebrate can be overwhelming and painful. Especially in the first year following a death, it's important for survivors to create new holiday rituals and traditions.

The first step in coping with grief during the holidays is acknowledging that the first holiday season without your loved one is extremely difficult. By making specific plans and seeking support, you can better prepare yourself. It's also important to remember that sometimes the anticipation leading up to a holiday can be more challenging than the actual day itself.

Here are some helpful tips for coping with grief during the holidays:

1. Set realistic expectations for yourself and recognize that this year will be different.

2. Assess whether you can handle past responsibilities and expectations and decide if you want to continue certain traditions.

3. Accept the help and support offered by others, whether it's for cooking, shopping, decorating, or other tasks.

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4. Surround yourself with loved ones who understand and support you. Share your plans and any changes in holiday routines and take comfort in sharing memories and photographs.

5. While it's okay to avoid certain circumstances that you're not ready to handle, try to avoid completely canceling the holiday. Find a balance between moments of solitude, remembrance, and planned social activities.

6. Allow yourself to experience a range of emotions, whether it's joy, sadness, or anger. Remember that everyone grieves differently, and it's important to honor your unique grieving process. Feeling moments of joy and laughter doesn't mean you've forgotten your loved one.

7. Find solace in giving back to others. Consider donating to a charity you are passionate about or giving a gift in memory of your loved one. Extend an invitation to someone who might be spending the holidays alone. Consider adopting a needy family for the holiday season.

8. Lastly, take care of yourself. Prioritize self-care and self-compassion.

During the holidays, remember that it's normal to experience grief. Embrace your emotions, seek support, and don't hesitate to reach out for professional help – they are there to assist you through the toughest of times.


If you are looking for grief support, we highly recommend Fox Valley Hands of Hope, a non-profit that offers free grief support.

For additional Grief Support Resources:

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