Grieving During the Holidays FAQ: Find Comfort and Loving Thoughts in the Answers

woman with a Santa Claus hat, holding her head with her hands, a glass of red wine on a table next to her in the living room, grieving during the holidays

Hi there. Today I’m here to bring some light to the darkness, and I know you’re here for it. Let’s talk about grieving during the holidays – grieving the loss of a loved one, grieving after divorce, after losing your job, or many other situations that create feelings of grief. There are so many reasons grief is the worst at Christmas and during holidays in general. And it’s helpful to understand a little bit about why that is, but it’s especially helpful to know what to do about it.

How to be able to be in your grief process, what to do when you’re overwhelmed with feelings of loneliness during this time, and how to navigate the holidays so that you have a bit more ease and a bit more love in your heart.

Letting Go Isn’t Easy

Even while you’re going through these steps of letting go…or not letting go. Because sometimes what the holidays kick up is this:

“I don’t want to let go. I’m not ready to let go. It’s not fair that I have to let go. I want my family. I want this vibe. I want this thing. I want the way it was.”

So, wherever you are in that process, I am here for it. I am hugging you. I am loving on you, pouring some love on it. Let’s dig into the who, what, when, where, and why of grieving during the holidays.

#1 Why are the holidays a difficult time to be grieving the loss of a loved one?

Dark Winter Months

Why are the holidays such a difficult time to grieve the loss of a loved one, the loss of your marriage after divorce, or the loss of time? First things first, let’s just acknowledge that in the winter months, most women and people, in general, aren’t spending as much time outside. We don’t spend as much time in the sun and the light.

The sunlight charges our inner light.

So the first thing you should do about that is get really intentional about spending some number of minutes in the sun daily, even if it’s overcast. Actually, on overcast days it’s even more important. This little tweak alone can shift some of how you experience grief during the holidays.

Because for many women, grief is a heavy, dark, inner-world experience. And without the natural light charging our inner light, it’s heavier, it’s thicker, it’s stickier.

Part of why this season is harder is because the nature of the season is hibernation. And when you’ve got grief on top of hibernation, like, whoa, right? So, get your face in the sun and not through a window.

woman in bed with white linen, pulling her blanket over her head, grieving during the holidays

Feeling Lonely Without …

The other reason that it’s so hard for women is that grief is an inner-world process.

It’s you with you and your higher power. It’s in you. And the holidays are a “with” time.

The holidays are a “with” season. With your children, with your family, with your community, with your church, with your whomever. With your volunteer spaces, with people in need, with people who are giving; with, with, with, with, with… and grief doesn’t go very well with “with.” It just doesn’t.

When we women think about grieving, so often, there’s anger and tears, and low energy. Then you add the holidays and feeling guilty about not being “with” enough for your children. Or “with” enough for your family. And maybe, in addition to guilt, maybe you feel like a burden.

Then you’ve got all this extra stuff going on in addition to grief during hibernation season. And you’re like, “God. I can’t do anymore. I can’t do anymore.” And that’s OK.

Giving During the Holidays

If you understand why it’s so hard, then you can give yourself a little bit of a break. Because grieving during hibernation season, then guilting yourself and feeling a burden all at the same time is too much. Let those last couple of things shed. And maybe allow you to be one of the people that people are giving to this season, right?

Allow yourself to be a magnet for people to give to you this season. That’s wonderful.

That’s what it’s all about, right? Part of this, part of your healing journey, is about learning how to love yourself and believing you are worthy of love, and opening yourself up to receiving.

Focusing on Negative Thoughts

When you’re grieving during the holidays after your divorce, one of the other extra things that you’re tempted to take on is this loss of time idea. That part of what you’re grieving is lost time.

Like when it was Halloween, and you’re like, “But I only have so many trick or treats left.” And now, you’re edging into these other winter holidays thinking, “I only have so many of these holidays with my kids.”

There is this time thing, like, I’m missing this season. I’m missing something. And when we’re focused on what we’re missing, everything feels so much heavier.

PS, that whole “I’m missing something” way of thinking completely X’s out, whatever the divine intention behind all of this is. It X’s out the fact that there is more coming to you as a result of this loss.

antiquated alarm clock, left background pink, right background green

“Every ending is a beginning.”

Do you know that really annoying saying that every ending is a beginning? Which is so beautiful, but when you’re hurting, you’re like, “F your beginning, I was happy with my pre-ending.” But I want you to also do your best to get intentional about shedding the perception that you’re out of time.

You were never out of time. You’re not out of time.

But you can convince yourself that you are. We, women, are good at convincing ourselves of anything. So just notice this, you are really good at convincing yourself that you’re out of time, but it’s not actually true.

How long does grieving last on average?

And, in line with this notion of time, which is a thinking error, women often want desperately to know how long grieving lasts. 

What I want you to know is that it is largely within your power and control now. 

It’s an emotional process that has layers, and we women all know how grief can sucker-punch us. The length of grief really has to do with this three-legged stool of self-care. 

Meaning: 

  • being deeply kind to yourself 
  • deeply supportive of healing 
  • deeply supportive of your healing process 

That means not guilting and shaming yourself around it: “It should be faster. It should be this. I should be better. I should do more. I should think right.”

Work on building trust in yourself so that you can move forward in your healing journey with clarity and, when you’re ready, trust that you can make positive decisions for yourself and in your new relationships.

woman is holding her fingers in the zen pose, with a little butterfly landing on her thumb

3-Legged Stool Approach: How to Deal with Grief

Deeply meaningful self-care is one leg of the stool. A grief support system after divorce is the second leg of the stool. And I mean like a delicious, gooey grief support system. Like women who just get where you are, and they’re not trying to rush you out of it. And they’re unconditionally supportive. And sure, maybe they nudge you sometimes, and they’re like, “Let us love you! Come have fun with us.” They may nudge you in those kinds of ways, but they’re not making you feel some-type-of-way about your grief process.

And then a spiritual practice, that third leg of the stool. This is intentionally separate from self-care. Because self-care is something we do all day long.

Self-care has to do with being in tune with yourself and really giving yourself what you need at any given moment during the day.

Peeing when you need to pee, eating when you need to eat, resting when you need to rest, right? That is self-care.

But a spiritual practice is praying and then meditating on your higher power’s response. It’s tuning in to that intuition cave inside of you and listening.

It’s practicing faith in a very concrete way, not in a theoretical way. 

But when we want to get drunk on the drama, when we women want to get drunk on our emotions, and when we want to get drunk on self-pity, that’s when we’re not in an intentional spiritual practice. 

When we’re like, “No, I’m going to feel very badly for myself, and I’m going to make sure everybody knows about that.” That is part of grief. And I’m here for it. So when it comes, OK, let it come. And then let’s also let it go and get back into that vibration with Universal spirits, a higher power. God. Whomever you commune with. To be able to receive the truth of what you’re going through. 

So, self-care, support, and a spiritual practice are the things that dictate how long you’re grieving lasts. 

Because grieving doesn’t last forever, and you are not meant to stay in this low vibrational, heavy space. And there is a very clear path out of it for you if you are tapped in, tuned in, turned on to your needs, to your spiritual practice, and to the supportive loved ones around you who want you to feel loved and cared for.

What year of grief is the hardest?

The First Year of Grief is the hardest.

Sometimes you want to know what year of grief after divorce is the hardest.

Typically, the first year of your divorce recovery is when it’s the heaviest, it’s the hardest, it’s so fresh, it’s so raw.

Some women might go into a sort of survival mode in the first year. Where you just kind of power through and don’t let yourself feel grief. Notice if you are powering on to a bootstrapping kind of vibe in the immediate aftermath of loss. Or if you were just like, “I know some **** went down here, but I’m not going there yet.”

That sometimes is a very meaningful coping process to create some structural stability before you go to that emotional collapse place. So sometimes, you have a season of powering through before the season of grief really unfolds. 

But if it’s been two years, if grief is getting heavier beyond that, it’s usually because you’re missing one of the legs of that stool. Self-care, a support system, and a spiritual practice. 

So if a woman is in year 3-4-5 and they’re not moving through the grief process, if it’s not shedding in layers, then one of those legs (or multiple legs of the stool) is missing. And all we have to do is call in whatever is missing.

Meaningful self-care, a gooey support system, a spiritual practice, and then you start moving along in the grief process and start walking the path toward life after grieving.

sunset in blue violet colors over the ocean, grieving during the holidays

Does grief ever fully go away?

There’s this interesting conversation about does grief ever fully go away? I like to think that grief does go away. The grief does pass. 

Longing for Something Better

But what it leaves in its wake is longing. A longing that maybe feels largely unanswered until we have returned to the great beyond. And that there is an answer to the longing that we maybe don’t always tap into. And that answer to longing is that, hey, we are spiritual beings having a human experience. And so, the longing is louder when we’re especially focused on the human aspect of our experience.

But when women are really tapped into the spiritual aspect of our existence, then hey, my soul can be closely connected to your soul, even if in human form, we aren’t necessarily in proximity.

And all of this is validated in the quantum mechanics world. 

If we look at physics, we can see that entangled particles say that there is this connection that goes deeper, goes beyond our human perception. But when we go into that intuition cave, and deep in our mind’s eye and our heart space, my soul and your soul can dance, can talk, can share, can cry, can connect. And sometimes, you may even feel a physical sensation.

And then, what do we do with longing? We get to decide if we lean more into the human experience of it or the spiritual experience of it. And that can sometimes be a salve, right, like a medicine for that longing.

How do I deal with grief over the holidays?

Let’s talk a little bit more about how to deal with grief during the holidays in your divorce recovery process.

It is kind of a magical time, even if you’re not super in tune with that magic right now, because you’re in that heavy grief process; during hibernation season.

During Thanksgiving, there tends to be more intentional gratitude floating around in the ether. And during the Christmas season, it is more about giving, more about family, more about connection, more about acknowledging the gifts that our religious forefathers have given to us. And then, during New Years, it’s more about renewal. And there’s this very intentional attitude about giving, rebirth, gratitude, magic.

And so, there is magic involved with grieving during holidays. And what I want you to do is to get really curious about what message all of that holiday magic has for you during this season. 

light flashed on the windshield

Your Spiritual Guidance

Because your spiritual guidance is constantly pumping little clues toward you. Messages and clues guiding you down the path of what comes next for you.

And during the holiday season, there is just this extra sparkle, this extra magic, this extra intention all around having to do with these spiritual practices.

It is a magical time to get curious about, “I wonder what my spiritual guidance is trying to tell me today.”

  • Ask yourself this question each day 
  • Write it on your mirror. This is a beautiful mirror message for you to use right now: “What does my Spiritual Guidance want me to know about my grief today?”
  • Go about your day as best you can

Setting the intention of looking for that guidance and being ready to receive it when it comes.

And then, when it comes, don’t talk yourself out of it, right?

Trust it. Go with it.

So, while you’re grieving during the holidays, get curious about what your spiritual guidance is wanting to say to you during this magical time.

dried lavender, gemstones, two lab glasses with a mixture of sand, dried flowers, and shells

What to say to someone grieving during the holidays?

Now, for women who might be asking, “What do I say to someone grieving during the holidays?” 

Nothing. Don’t try to say too many things to people who are grieving during the holidays. 

Our job is to abide. Our job is to hold space. Our job is to sit with, to love on, to hug, to hold, to just be with the grief. Because you can’t force it. And so just holding space and being in that safe place is the best thing to do. 

How to help someone grieving during the holidays?

But if you are a woman who needs help while you’re grieving during the holidays, or you know someone who needs help grieving during the holidays, the best thing you can do is offer simple assistance: 

  • Drop off a meal 
  • Pick up the groceries or the kids 
  • Fold a load of laundry 
  • Wash the dishes 

The basic things that are hard to do when everything feels heavy, and you’ve got extra tasks to do with the holidays.

So if you really want to help someone who’s grieving during the holidays, just know that those simple tasks for them go so far. And other than that, just sit with them.

Like, “Hey, I’m going to come over for a cup of tea and just sit with you. I don’t have anything magical to say, but I’m just going to sit with you. I’m just gonna play with your hair. Rub your back. Sit next to you and love on you.”

That’s it. There are beautiful aspects of grieving during the holidays, and it’s because there’s some extra magic, there’s some extra spirit energy going on. There’s this extra intention that people have to do good things during holidays, to give.

I want you to set your intention on receiving that goodwill, receiving the Christmas spirit, the holiday spirit. Letting that in. And getting really curious about what those messages are for you. Above and beyond, love, trust all of this is unfolding for a reason. And you deserve the time and space to grieve after divorce, even now.

Even when you keep telling yourself you think you’re supposed to be doing 100 other things, you deserve the time and space to grieve.

I love you so much. Have a beautiful season and if you need anything, let me know, I’m here.

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