10 ways to deal with loss during the festive season

These expert-approved coping strategies will help make it a tad easier.

Harper's Bazaar India

"There is no pain so great as the memory of joy in present grief."
-    Aeschylus

The long festive season, which starts around early October and goes all on till New Year’s Day, is filled with fervour and joy. The crisp air, decked-up streets, and family get-togethers add to the happiness and excitement. However, for some people it can be a rather painful period, especially if they are dealing with the loss of a loved one. The feelings of loss and loneliness hit a bit more during the holidays and festivities, and there are multiple reasons for it. For one, there is a general expectation to be cheerful and be a part of the festivities and these moments also take you down memory lane when your loved one was still a part of your life and you enjoyed the festivals with them. 

The situation often puts people in a conundrum. They may hesitate to approach the one who is going through this, who in turn don't express anything for they don’t want to spoil the mood. Those dealing with loss, thus, feel lonely, isolated, and helpless. 

Coping with a loved one's loss during festivals may seem like a big task, but there are a few things you can do. To begin with, it's important to understand what grieving looks like to different people. 

What does grieving during festivals look like? 

Mourning is a multifaceted process with no specific stages. Sadness, anger, resentment, longing, numbness, lack of concentration, loss of appetite, sleeping issues, reliving the memories over and over again, denial anxiety, and hopelessness are some of the feelings one goes through when they are grieving. There is no right or wrong way of doing it. And when we try to understand ‘grief’, one of the very first things that we must realise is that everyone takes their time to process grief and have different ways of coping with it. How and when the many feelings surface also varies person to person.

Also, each person has their own emotions associated with the loss and the feelings that a particular festival may bring up for them. This may have been a time they usually spent with the person they lost, so it’s completely normal to feel sad that they’re no longer with you. You may react more sensitively to things or feel detached from those around you.

If you too have lost a loved one, some of the basic tips to cope with the loss of a closed one are: 

Take your time and do things at your own pace. 

It’s important to acknowledge your feelings and not avoid them. 

Be kind to yourself and remember that all feelings can co-exist. 

Seek support from friends, family, co-workers, and professionals if needed. 

Allow yourself some time to feel sad and think about the person you love. It’s important to acknowledge your feelings and not avoid them.

Think about all the things you liked about the person.

Do something that you used to do together.

Revisit a spot where you spent time together.

Share some of your memories of them with others who knew this person.

Do something charitable: helping others helps alleviate your sadness as you bring joy into someone else’s life who needs it. 

Inputs by Mehezabin Dordi, clinical psychologist, Sir H N Reliance Foundation Hospital, Mumbai, and Sherene Aftab, psychologist & founder Serene Hour Counselling and Career Advice Consultancy