Surviving Holidays: Grieving tips for special days

Grief Counselling

Grief can be extra painful during holidays and special days. It seems like you need an extra dose of strength on holidays when you miss your loved ones a little bit more and the memories are painful. Clinical Psychologist and grief counsellor shares some tips on how to survive this pain and loss during holidays when you miss your loved ones.

“I spent last Christmas with my husband; this year he’s no more; Christmas is unbearable.”

“My mother always gave a beautiful Thanksgiving dinner; since she has passed away, Thanksgiving is not the same any more.”

“New year’s eve always held a special significance for my fiancée and me; she proposed to me on one such eve; since an illness took her away, I can’t seem to stop crying when new year rolls around.”

After the loss of a loved one, the grief can be overwhelming and passing a day without the thought of a loved one becomes quite difficult. Each day varies in the intensity of pain one feels. Although a bereaved doesn’t need a reminder, but still there are few specific days that freshen the wound. I call these days “D Day – whirlpools”. These days are special days, anniversaries, birthdays and important dates that you shared with the deceased and that shake your life for a day by intensifying your grief, just like a whirlpool in an otherwise smooth sea.

Some of us decide to withdraw and isolate ourselves on such days. Some of us decide to spend it with others who share the same pain and most of us decide to let the day pass like any other day. The point is all of us are different individuals and we cope differently in different situations and different days. But here are few things that you could practice, to make these days little less painful :

Accept and Acknowledge

You don’t need to pretend to be all okay. Grief is painful and this pain might not be comfortable. Please grant yourself the permission to be expressive or let it flow and take its natural course. You might go through an array of emotions. It can be anger, guilt, sadness, depression or maybe no emotions at all. The best way is to accept and acknowledge how you feel about these days.

Be Yourself

If you plan on being by yourself, withdrawing in your safe place, please do that, but only if you feel that it is the best way you can cope. If you feel that you might end up getting into a loop of negative thoughts, make sure you have other back-up plans.

Find Company

If you plan on being with others who share the same grief and loss, pour your heart out. There is comfort in knowing that you are next to someone, who was important to the deceased. This way the bonds continue and the moments shared with the deceased remain cherished for a lifetime. Coping becomes little easier when you share your pain and happiness as well as the stories about the deceased.

Go Easy

Don’t deliberately plan to deprive yourself from anything. Please try not to be harsh on yourself, as there is already a lot of pain within. Please try not to induce more pain intentionally, for the only reason that your wound is trying to heal each day. A wound on a wound can only worsen things, and also because I am sure you wouldn’t want the same for the deceased if he/she were in your place.

Maybe with time, the same people who stood by you might not be around to hold your hand or maybe you have decided not to bother others with the same words about the grief you still continue to feel.

With the advent of cyber space, there are so many social support groups where you can continue to express your pain and share your grief. Also, counselling sites like are there to hear you out where you have trained grief counsellors. So please feel free to be part of such groups which are unbiased, without rules and welcome you with an open heart and unconditional support that stay for as long as you want. Remember your heart needs your kindness.

And lastly, please wrap yourself with gratitude of being able to meet the deceased in your present life, because if it weren’t for them, you wouldn’t have experienced the best things in life. Hug yourself for surviving hours and days and years of pain independently.