insert alt text

For many, managing grief during the holidays can be especially difficult. The season is wrought with painful reminders of happy memories, amplifying the feeling of loss. While it’s a sensitive and personal experience, grief is not something to ignore or hide. Here are some ways people have learned to cope when living alongside someone who has been diagnosed with a deadly disease, such as mesothelioma.

Plan Ahead

As a way to balance the times when it feels almost better to just sit with feelings of grief, plan out a schedule of pre-holiday and holiday activities that will pull you out from lingering in those painful moments too long. Staying busy and as social as you’re able can provide much needed relief and healthy distraction.

Don’t Overextend Yourself

At the same time, overcommitting can put unnecessary pressure and stress on yourself, making it more difficult to handle moments of mourning. Silence and solitude can be as healing as being social; balance is key. Set realistic expectations and don’t be afraid to say “no thanks.”

Be Honest

Accept your feelings and communicate them to your loved ones. This will help them be more understanding, and take that large “I need to pretend to be happy all of the time” burden off your own shoulders. Just because it’s the holidays doesn’t mean you aren’t allowed to feel unhappy. Allow yourself to feel whatever it is you may be feeling.

Reach Out for Help

Recognize there may be times during your healing journey that you may need to contact someone you trust or a professional. There is no shame in pain.

Try New Traditions

While reflecting on cherished memories with a lost loved one, whether in a journal or with others, can be a healthy outlet, it’s also important to remember that life keeps moving forward. Consider establishing new traditions that bring you peace and further your healing journey.

Focus On Others

To help your mind escape, try focusing your energy on others and to capitalize on the spirit of altruism — preparing food with your family, writing cards to close friends, or donating your time to volunteer work or money to an organization close to your or your lost loved one’s heart.

The grief journey is very personal and there is no magic wand, but you are allowed to celebrate your loved one’s life and your own during the holidays, which are, after all, a season of hope and reflection.