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How to handle grief during the holidays

(BPT) – The holidays are meant to be a joyous time. But for someone dealing with grief, celebrations can be extremely difficult. If you are grieving over a recent loss, or one that happened years ago, experts say there are things you can do to make facing the demands and the expectations of the holidays a little easier.

Honor your loved one

Finding a way to honor your loved one during the holiday celebration can be especially important, and meaningful, if the loss is recent.

It’s O.K. to be sad

Pretending to be happy and cheerful, especially after a recent loss, can be a tremendous strain.

It’s O.K. to be happy

Don’t be afraid to take part in fun holiday activities, and don’t feel guilty if you do find yourself having a good time during the celebrations.

Don’t set yourself up 

Cecil-Van Den Heuvel believes it is easy for those who are grieving to set themselves up to have a bad holiday. “People anticipate what they’re going to feel and set themselves up to some degree to have a horrible time,” she explains. “Do not set the stage for what the day is going to be like. Just allow it to be what it is.”

Be authentic to yourself

Being authentic to yourself is the most important aspect of grieving during the holidays, or anytime.

“Allow yourself to feel the pain so you can integrate it into your life and learn and grow from it,” she says. “Nobody wants to suffer, but suffering has its purpose, and that purpose is growth. There is always going to be life and death, and we need to grow from grief rather than being victim to it.”

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