The Montfort Group

Six Tips for Managing Grief During the Holidays

Grief is difficult at any time of the year but none more so than over the holidays. Have you lost a loved one, a relationship, a job or suffered another kind of loss this holiday season? These can amplify it even more. Bombarded with advertising messages of family gatherings and ho ho ho-ing, the pressure to be happy, to look happy and to put painful memories aside can be just too much.

Two years ago, my children’s father died five days before Christmas. Diagnosed with terminal cancer, he was determined to make it through the holidays spending as much time as he could with family. Sadly, he didn’t make it and we found ourselves staring at the Christmas tree on December 25th – feeling lost in our grief on a day he loved to celebrate. Always a planner, Ross had organized and wrapped gifts for all of us. It was surreal to see them placed under the tree knowing he wasn’t with us; making the pain of his loss even greater.

While there is no magic formula for navigating grief and loss, one thing I know for sure, avoiding those emotions doesn’t make it easier. There may be temporary relief in distractions but in my experience leaning into the sadness is a healthier way to heal.

Trust that grief is a normal response to loss, whatever it may be. There are no shortcuts or detours. Working through it is a process over time.

  • If you need help or someone to talk to, make an appointment with a counselor to talk through your feelings.
  • Sharing memories and reminiscing with loved ones can be both comforting and cathartic when healing from loss.
  • Practice self-care. Move your body. Accept offers of support from friends and family.
  • Set boundaries. It’s okay to limit how you observe the holidays. Only you can know what is tolerable so don’t worry about disappointment in others or getting caught up in the “shoulds”.
  • Do something different. Change up your holiday traditions to introduce something new or nothing at all. You get to decide.
  • Volunteering or supporting others in need can go a long way in providing purpose and meaning over the holidays. People out there need you!
Laurie Poole, MS, LPC

Laurie Poole, MS, LPC

Laurie is a Licensed Professional Counselor with her Masters of Science in Counseling from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX. She is also a graduate of McGill University in Montreal. She received advanced practical training in Emotionally Focused Therapy for couples and families at UT Southwestern, where she spent five years in the Department of Psychiatry’s Family Studies Clinic working with diverse clients of all ages. In addition, she has completed training in Collaborative Law for couples seeking divorce to find solutions in a more amicable way.

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Laurie Poole, MS, LPC

Managing Family Stress During The Holidays

While there is no magic recipe to avoid some of the stress, here are some suggestions for managing holiday stress and family drama. Expecting difficult relatives to behave differently probably isn’t realistic. Self-care and planning are key to managing anxiety and emotional strain!

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Two years ago, my children’s father died five days before Christmas. Diagnosed with terminal cancer, he was determined to make it through the holidays spending as much time as he could with family. Sadly, he didn’t make it and we found ourselves staring at the Christmas tree on December 25th – feeling lost in our grief on a day he loved to celebrate. Always a planner, Ross had organized and wrapped gifts for all of us. It was surreal to see them placed under the tree knowing he wasn’t with us; making the pain of his loss even greater.

Grief is difficult at any time of the year but none more so than over the holidays. Have you lost a loved one, a relationship, a job or suffered another kind of loss this holiday season? These can amplify it even more. Bombarded with advertising messages of family gatherings and ho ho ho-ing, the pressure to be happy, to look happy and to put painful memories aside can be just too much.

While there is no magic formula for navigating grief and loss, one thing I know for sure, avoiding those emotions doesn’t make it easier. There may be temporary relief in distractions but in my experience leaning into the sadness is a healthier way to heal.

  • Trust that grief is a normal response to loss, whatever it may be. There are no shortcuts or detours. Working through it is a process over time. If you need help or someone to talk to, make an appointment with a counselor to talk through your feelings.
  • Sharing memories and reminiscing with loved ones can be both comforting and cathartic when healing from loss.
  • Practice self-care. Move your body. Accept offers of support from friends and family.
  • Set boundaries. It’s okay to limit how you observe the holidays. Only you can know what is tolerable so don’t worry about disappointment in others or getting caught up in the “shoulds”.
  • Do something different. Change up your holiday traditions to introduce something new or nothing at all. You get to decide.
  • Volunteering or supporting others in need can go a long way in providing purpose and meaning over the holidays. People out there need you!