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  • Writer's pictureNisha Paliwal, MA, LCPC

Celebrating the Holidays After a Loss

As the 2022 calendar year winds down, we’re faced with end of year holiday events and festivities. Although this season is known for its joyous and fun atmosphere, many of us have experienced tremendous hardships and heartbreaks these last few years. For those of us who hold heavy grief and had to say our last goodbyes to a loved one, the holidays can be scary, painful, and honestly dreadful. It may feel like everything has changed and the holidays, especially, just aren’t the same without them…

As we understandably miss our loved ones more during a time when everyone is celebrating togetherness, here are 3 courageous gifts to give yourself to create and feel meaningfulness, peace, and maybe even a little bit of joy.

1. Give yourself the gift of grace and space

Mourning isn’t linear, and it is normal to feel very sensitive when thoughts of a loved one arise. Memories or longing for your loved one to be here may bring up intense feelings of sadness, anger, guilt, and shame, among other difficult emotions. Know that it is truly okay to feel what you feel and give yourself the grace and space to be human.

Acknowledge your heartache and allow yourself intentional space to release: cry as much as you need to, book a rage room and safely shed your anguish, call/hang out with someone supportive to vent about it, sing songs out loud that resonates with how you feel, or swap plans you’re really not into for special activities that you know would be helpful to you.

Give yourself permission to do what you know you truly need!

2. Find the gift of the present

Is there a way to feel your loved one’s presence this holiday season? Finding something in the present can help you feel continually connected to your loved one can be comforting and meaningful. Is there a favorite food they used to enjoy? Or a holiday tradition they loved? What made them smile day-to-day?

Intentionally bringing your loved one’s presence into the holidays could look like crafting a decorative item representing them, creating their favorite dish using their recipe (or purchasing it), volunteering/visiting somewhere where they frequently spent time, or even simply reminiscing with others who miss them too and acknowledging your gratitude for the good times and what they meant to you.

Reflecting on how your loved one would like you to honor them may help you continue your loved one’s legacy and their impact on you through your own life.

3. Gift yourself more of YOU

You adored your loved one, and chances are your loved one also loved you and wished for you to live a fulfilling life. How do you show up for yourself in ways your loved one would be proud of? Where are you now when it comes to loving yourself? So much time and energy can be focused on important relationships with others, and that may be necessary. But what about your relationship with yourself?

Dedicate some time to reflect upon all you’ve survived and overcome so far. Embrace yourself for your strength and courage to be here now. Ask yourself what gifts you would like to receive from yourself?

Only you can gift yourself what you know is on your mental health wish list!

The holidays don’t just disappear because they’re hard for us, and neither does the hurting until we move through it. By actually attending to our experiences of loss and acknowledging our true needs (instead of pushing it all down to fake holiday cheer to meet external expectations), we can meet ourselves where we are and grant ourselves the power to heal.

Please know you are not alone if you’re feeling especially heavy and emotionally burdened this time of year. It is possible for this to be a personal, magical time for you to start feeling lighter and more whole… one gift to yourself at a time!

Get Professional Help with Center for Creative Arts Therapy

Have you been having a hard time coping with sadness? Are you looking for help but not sure where to turn? Center for Creative Arts Therapy can help.

You might feel like your grief will never go away, but there is a light at the end of the tunnel. The challenging feelings you’re experiencing aren’t just something you need to learn to live with. Whether you need to just talk it out, or you’re just looking for some better coping strategies to overcome sadness using the arts as a vessel, Center for Creative Arts Therapy can provide you with guidance and support.

Let the Center for Creative Arts Therapy show you how to deal with grief and loss so you can begin to heal, starting today.

Center for Creative Arts Therapy articles are written by clinically licensed mental health professionals and creative arts therapists; grounded in scientific research and evidence-based practices. Articles are extensively reviewed by our team of clinical experts (therapists of various specialties) to ensure content is accurate and on par with current industry standards.

Our goal at Center for Creative Arts Therapy is to provide the most up-to-date, valuable, and objective information on mental health-related topics in order to help readers make informed decisions.


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