Published on December 21, 2020

How to Approach Holiday Grief

Shelly Renagar

Photo is of Shelly Ranegar, LSW, Bereavement Coordinator, Holzer Hospice

With all the holiday hustle and bustle, it can be difficult to keep traditions going. This is especially true for those who may be experiencing grief on top of their emotions surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic.

For many, the holidays are a time for celebration. However, grief is more common around the holidays. Family activities, holiday parties, and traditions that were once happy occasions are now painful reminders of loss. It’s important to note that it is okay if holiday traditions change.

“Try something out of the ordinary this holiday season if you or someone you know is grieving,” Shelly Ranegar, LSW, Bereavement Coordinator, Holzer Hospice, said. “You can alter old traditions to fit better with this new phase of your life.”

One of the most important things to remember if you are grieving is ­­that it’s okay to take time for yourself this holiday season. Set boundaries with yourself and those around you. Find time to be alone, reflect, and cry if needed. Focus on things that you can control. Practice self-care by taking a walk, talking with a friend over the phone or video call, get plenty of rest and eat a healthy diet.

“Trust that grief is a part of healing,” Ranegar said. “Give yourself grace to have a bad day and express your feelings and emotions.”

Friends and other loved ones can help those experiencing grief by making themselves available. If you know someone who is grieving this holiday season, be supportive of that person and listen to the stories and things they want to share. Talking with others about a loss you have experienced can be a great source of comfort.

It can be difficult knowing what to do when you are grieving. Do not be afraid to ask for help if you find yourself struggling this holiday season.

“Look for support groups or contact a professional counselor to help you deal with your grief in a healthy manner,” Ranegar said. “Reminding loved ones that you’re having a rough time may be enough, but you may want to reach out and research other avenues for more support.”

Ranegar is offering one-on-one sessions for anyone who has experienced a loss, whether it be recent or in the past. To learn more about bereavement services or to schedule a time to speak with Ranegar, contact Holzer Hospice at 740-446-5074 or visit 

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