How to cope with seasonal grief

Person standing in front of a lake.

Seasonal grief is a topic that doesn’t get enough attention. But for many grieving people, the festive season can be an especially challenging time. Here are some things that may be helpful to keep in mind if you’re struggling with seasonal grief.

Think about traditions old and new

For some people, it can be helpful to remember someone by carrying out much loved traditions. But it’s also completely normal for old traditions to feel too painful to include. In this case, it can sometimes be comforting to think about creating new traditions, whether that’s a film, meal or shared activity.

Speak to people about what you’re going through

During the festive season, it’s not uncommon to feel pressure to appear happy and hide what you’re feeling. Don’t be afraid to share what you’re really feeling and ask people for help. You can also ask for privacy if that’s what you need.

Maintain a routine

Celebrations like Christmas, Hanukkah and New Year's can disrupt your normal routine and that may feel challenging when you’re grieving. Give yourself permission to make time for whatever is helpful, even if it’s not on the official schedule.

Grieve in the way that you need to

Grief is a very individual journey and looks different for everyone. For some people, it can feel important to visit someone’s grave or the place where their ashes are scattered. You may wish to share memories or find other ways to acknowledge the person who has died. It’s also completely fine not to do any of this at all.

Be kind to yourself

While the advice to be kind to yourself gets repeated a lot, it’s certainly worth bearing in mind while you’re grieving. Try not to worry about what the occasion is ‘supposed’ to look like and focus on what works for you. Be gentle with yourself and take time out if you need to.

Don’t be afraid to ask for further help

There are a number of excellent charities focusing on bereavement. We’ve worked with Palliative Care Nurse Charity Garnett to put together this list of free mental health resources for grieving people.

Don't miss our interview with grief therapist Julia Samuel or this guide to trans and LGBTQ+ funeral resources.

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