OPINION: Holiday grief is normal and should be respected

For those who have lost a loved one, the holiday season can be one of the hardest times of the year. It is a time filled with family and tradition, which draws attention to anyone who is missing and magnifies this loss.

The holidays are also typically seen as a time to be cheerful and thankful for the people and opportunities we have in our lives. This can make individuals feel like they are not allowed to be sad or have to hide these feelings from those around them — but it is okay to grieve during the holidays.

I lost my grandma during my senior year of high school, and it was one of the most challenging experiences I have ever had. Celebrating the first holiday season without her was especially hard for me and my family. 

One of the best ways to cope with grief during the holidays is to acknowledge it by giving it a time and place, according to Grief.com. This can be through lighting a candle, watching their favorite movie or sharing stories. 

When my extended family gathered to celebrate Christmas for the first time after losing my grandma, it didn’t quite feel the same, and we all knew why. Before eating, my grandpa said an extra prayer acknowledging my grandma and the loss we were all feeling. I think it was a big relief for everyone to have our grief recognized and put into words — it definitely was for me.

Acknowledging the grief, however, does not work for everyone and is not the only way to cope with it. Psychology Today suggests setting healthy boundaries with loved ones, allowing yourself to experience a wide range of emotions and trusting that grief is part of healing.

For those experiencing holiday grief, the most important thing to remember is that everyone experiences grief differently and finds different ways to cope with this grief — there is no right or wrong way. 

For those who know someone grieving during the holiday season, be supportive and respectful of their feelings of loss.

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