Surviving Thanksgiving: 6 tips for grievers

You hoped and prayed, you wished on a star, you stuck your head in the sand, you ignored your calendar, and despite all your best attempts, the holiday season has still rolled in.  Good effort, but unfortunately time has this really annoying way of marching on whether you like it or not.

When it comes to grief, the holidays can mean many things.  For some, it is a welcome time of year, bringing comfort, memories, and family.  For others it is a painful reminder of the loss of loved ones and tough life changes, coupled with practical and financial stressors.   For many it is a combination of both – that bittersweet combination of comfort and pain that grievers come to know all too well.

We have been sharing some older posts on social media to help you get mentally prepped for the season, but in case you missed them we wanted to share a couple of our tips, articles, podcasts, course and other resources to keep you going this holiday.

Thanksgiving Grief Tip One:

Be prepared for grief triggers.  They are everywhere around the holidays, it is just a fact.  Thinking about and anticipating triggers can actually make them easier to manage in the moment because you know they are coming and you aren’t caught off guard.  If you want to start thinking about some Thanksgiving or other holiday triggers, start by checking out this post (click on the image to go to the article!):thanksgiving grief

Thanksgiving Grief Tip Two:

Seek gratitude.  Okay, I know that seeking gratitude is such an overused concept that it feels kind of cliche these days, but the bottom line it that it works.  For real, there is research.  Don’t trust us? Trust Harvard. It helps us to shift our focus so we start noticing some of the positive that exists around us, rather than exclusively the negative.  Click on the image below for a Thanksgiving gratitude challenge.thanksgiving-grief-2

Thanksgiving Grief Tip Three:

Look for tips and tools to cope and find balance this holiday.  If may be processing and coping with all the emotions that are coming up.  Like the Dual Process Model of Grief suggests, it is okay to throw yourself into these emotions, but you may also need to take breaks to allow you to focus on logistical things or just to get some space.   We currently have a totally free e-course (that also happens to be totally self-paced) to help you connect with others, learn some new tips and tools for coping and remembering your loved one, and face some of those complicated holiday feelings head-on.  We suggest you give it a try if you are feeling anxiety about the coming holiday season. Click the image below to register, then start whenever you’re ready.

thanksgiving grief ecourse

 Thanksgiving Grief Tip Four:

Plan to get some space from the togetherness when you need it.  Family members are great, friends are great, but it can all get to be a bit much when you are emotionally depleted and muddling through the holidays.  It is important to remember that you need time and space to recharge your batteries.  You may feel a lot of pressure to participate in holiday events, but try to be aware of your limits and needs.  Thinking through your events and creating plans in advance to take breaks (or leave if you need to) can make a huge difference. Get more info and tips for coping with togetherness by clicking the image below.holiday-togetherness

Thanksgiving Grief Tip Five:

Create something that reminds you of your loved one.  The benefits of this are two-fold.  First, you get to use some creativity, which can help with reducing stress and coping with tough emotions.  Second, it allows you to honor and remember your loved one.  Win-win.  What you decide to create is up to you.  We specifically created memory lanterns with kids one year for Thanksgiving and the whole time I was left thinking, adults would love this too! So if you don’t have any other ideas this one is fun and easy for all ages,  You can check out the link below.memory-lantern

Thanksgiving Grief Tip Six:

Be prepared to regroup.  Holiday disasters happen.  You may try sooooo hard this year to create a happy holiday for yourself and your family, only to have something unexpected happen that makes it feel less than the day you expected.   Sometimes this is well outside of your control and all you can do is look for ways to push forward.  As the old saying goes, hope for the best but plan for the worst.   Getting yourself mentally prepared for the emotions of the day, as well as preparing how you might handle something that doesn’t go well, can be hugely helpful in getting through the day when it comes.  Our family had a very rough Thanksgiving a couple years ago and we definitely had to put regrouping in action. I wrote all about it, which you can check out by clicking the link below:the-art-of-regrouping

Okay, we hope one or two of the ideas above help you to get through the next few days and the rest of the holiday season!  While we have your attention, we wanted to make a quick request and a quick announcement for those of you who don’t follow us on social media.


We have some holiday cards for sale this year!  As most of you know, WYG runs on a shoestring budget.  Sale of these cards will help us keep things going in 2018.  We know you may be skipping cards this year, but if you’re not, consider these cards!   You can click here to purchase them in the WYG store (a pack of 10 cards is $10, with discounts if you get more) or click the image below.

‘May the memories of those we love shine brightly’ holiday card – 10 Pack

Alright, so that’s all we have for today.  But over the next few days and through the holiday season our social media will be filled with support to get you through.  If you haven’t already, follow us on Facebook (you can do that on the sidebar over to your right >>>) and also on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and Google+.  We are @whatsyourgrief everywhere you’d look for us.  Sending good thoughts to all for peace and comfort this Thanksgiving! 

November 20, 2017

2 responses on "Surviving Thanksgiving: 6 tips for grievers"

  1. Thanks for these ideas. we are some what in the same boat. I have in one way dreading it but in another so Thankful that all our family knows the Lords. PTL That helps in this kind of situation. Hope you are doing ok. I have struggled but But I am greatful that I know where he is. No more pain and struggling for his breath plus several other health problems. I pray for your family and that they are doing as well as possible. God Bless your family as you go through this Holiday GOD loves YOU and so do I.

  2. I have lost two children (age 15 and age 40), 4 siblings, parents and grandparents. I am the eldest in family. Most of the family passings have occurred in October, November. I just lost my brother a week ago. However, I started my own tradition of cooking holiday dinners for domestic abuse shelters (they cannot go home for holidays) and also cook at homeless shelters. It is very rewarding and a reminder that no matter what we go thru – we are still blessed. I celebrate the lives of those that have passed by giving back to those in need. Very rewarding in ways I never realized could happen.

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