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Allowing Grief and Joy to Coexist this Holiday Season

The holiday season is a time when people look forward to spending time with family, while others dread the reminder that their loved one is no longer around. The death of a loved one changes people’s view on many things and can lead to thoughts such as, “How do you celebrate when you are mourning?” or “How can you participate in joyful gatherings when you are not feeling joyful?” It can be difficult to think that feeling joyful can coexist with grief, but it is important to remember that it is okay to feel sad, and it is okay to feel happy, all within the same breath. Consider the suggestions below to cultivate joy during the holidays.

Embrace the memories 

Some may think it is best to avoid mentioning their loss to keep the mood light, but acknowledging it is better. Talking as a family about memories and finding ways to interweave them into new traditions and new memories can really help keep your loved one’s memory alive.

Encourage children to express their feelings by sharing yours.

Children often model their emotional expression after their caretakers, so being intentional with your expression of grief can give them the space and confidence to share their feelings, too. Asking children how they would like to honor their loved one this holiday season is key. Simple ideas may include decorating a place setting for their loved one or cooking their favorite meal.

Try a new tradition

Engage in new experiences leading up to the holidays if that feels right to you and your family. If your loved one enjoyed traveling, maybe planning a trip could be a great way to create new memories.

Share your grief with a trusted support network

Confiding in your support system can help you process the heightened emotions this season brings. Support groups give people the opportunity to express their unfiltered grief without fear of judgement because they are going through a similar journey.

Joy and grief can coexist. Give yourself permission to feel it. Positive and negative emotions don’t cancel each other out, and you don’t have to be done with pain to make space for meaning and joy. Above all, remember to take care of yourself and show yourself grace as you navigate this holiday season.

Kristina Miramontes M.A., LPC-S

Kristina Miramontes M.A., LPC-S

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