How to Approach the Holidays in the Midst of Grief and a Pandemic

The phrase “preparing for the holidays” can have a bittersweet connotation. Families may think of the joy this season brings such as decorating  for the holidays, gathering with others, and the sense of gratitude we often feel this time of year. Families may also think of the absence of a loved one, the stress of implementing traditions when it feels tiresome or stressful to do so while grieving, or how to even begin to plan to celebrate holiday traditions in the midst of a global pandemic. Though this holiday season is more unique than past celebrations due to the barriers the pandemic creates, traditions can still be created or altered based on a family’s comfort level. Especially in grieving households, it is important to reflect on what is comfortable for you and your family this holiday season. We process this topic in our groups because it is hard to decide what roles family members will have and what traditions feel comfortable to celebrate.

Some things to consider while planning your holiday in the midst of grief and a pandemic are:

  • You have the right to choose where you want to be and who you want to surround yourself with this holiday season

  • You don’t have to do anything you and your family don’t want to do. There isn’t a requirement on how to celebrate each holiday season

  • You have the right to do this holiday season differently than years past. Due to the pandemic, this may be the case for many families this holiday season, and that is okay if this holiday is different than the past holidays

  • It is okay to make new traditions, make modifications to old traditions, or choose to not partake in some traditions

  • Do what is best for you and your family this holiday season

For additional support during this holiday season, take a look at The Griever’s Holiday Bill of Rights

While taking these ideas into account, it is also important to be kind to yourself while listening and validating your feelings. You may feel differently around this holiday season due to where you are emotionally in your grief, the obstacles presented by the pandemic, and some traditions that may feel out of reach by force instead of by choice. It is okay to have feelings around these contributing stressors, and it is okay to find new ways as a family to feel comfort during the holiday season. If you are needing inspiration or guidance this holiday season, ask yourself: What is attainable for me to do this holiday season without added pressure? What do my children want to do and what traditions do they value each year? Families celebrate holidays differently based on many factors, so it is okay to give yourself permission to do the same.

Jade Stoner M.S., LPC, LCDC

Jade Stoner M.S., LPC, LCDC

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