Grief and the Holidays

We get many messages from our culture about how holidays are supposed to feel—happy, joyous, full of warm relationships with friends and family. But what about when they’re not? About 20-30% of undergraduates nationwide are in the process of grieving a loved one. Being a college student during the holiday season can be complicated enough on its own. Academic pressure and other responsibilities can leave you little time to deal with your feelings. This can be even more stressful if you’re trying to cope with the loss of a loved one, dealing with difficult family relationships, or if you’re dreading going home.

What are some of the ways you can handle grief during the holidays?

  • Find ways to talk about your feelings instead of bottling them up – say a prayer, share happy stories, or light a candle for the person you’re missing
  • Be kind to yourself – don’t push yourself to participate in holiday activities that are too much for you
  • Remember that grief is very personal – we all grieve and mourn the loss of loved ones in private and unique ways
  • Check out Actively Moving Forward, a group that empowers and connects college students to other college students going through the grieving process

Remembering to do little things over the holidays can help with sad and unhappy feelings. Find time for yourself away from others if being social is too much for you. Take time to make sure you are eating well and often enough. Schedule activities you enjoy doing – sit down and read that book or watch that movie you didn’t have time to read or watch during the quarter. Lastly, allow yourself time to recover from the holidays and remember that you are doing the best you can.

If you’re struggling or just need someone to talk to, you can always reach out to SPU’S Counseling Center or call the Crisis Line (1-800-273-8255).

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