Coping With Grief during the Holidays

The holidays can be the most difficult time of the year for people who are grieving. Love does not end with death.  Although most people cope reasonably well with the pain of loss, not everyone handles grief the same way.  If a person’s grief is fresh, or unresolved, the holiday cheer can provoke more intense grief or sadness. Some people confront the pain head on, mourning deeply, passionately, openly, and allow themselves to cry.

Others are more demure or private with their grief.  Some people embrace their painful emotions and combine them with joyful memories and won’t let their grief ruin their holidays. If you are among those people for whom the holidays result in a renewed sense of personal grief, no simple guidelines exist that will take away the hurt you are feeling. I hope however, that some suggestions may help you better cope with it.

·      Express your feeling of grief. It is your holiday and your grief. Sometimes people find more comfort in not participating in all of the activities. It is alright to tell people you are not up to it right now.

·      Find caring friends and relatives. Find those people who will encourage you to be yourself and accept your feelings.

·      Focus on what you want to do.  Discuss your wishes and needs with your caring friends and family.

·      Keeping too busy might not distract you from your grief, but may actually increase stress and keep you from discussing your thoughts and needs.

·      Share your memories. Memories are one of the best legacies that exist after the death of a loved one. Nobody can ever take away the memories you have. If they make you sad, it is alright to cry.

·      Start a new tradition. Say a few words of remembrance.

·      Help someone else. Some people find it helpful if they volunteer a charitable organization.

Fortunately, for most people grief does soften and change over time. Over time the holidays will become easier to handle.

If for you or someone else you know grief turns into depression or a crisis, it is important to seek help in the form of a licensed therapist or your local crisis center. Most local hospice centers have professional staff for grief therapy.  The following websites might provide some people with support and relief:


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About Gabriele Schorb-Machado

Gabriele Schorb-Machado is a Licensed Professional Counselor practicing in New Jersey. She earned her Masters degree in Psychology from West Chester University in 1986. Gabriele has had experience in treating a large variety of chronic mental health problems including depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, ADHD, Autism Spectrum Disorders, as well as personality and adjustment problems, her primary focus is on using CBT , mindfulness, and em- wave techniques for anxiety and depression. Currently she has a private practice in Moorestown, NJ. To learn more about Gabriele Schorb-Machado, please visit

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