Grief and Isolation through the Holidays

The end of the year and holidays are often a time of family, togetherness, and joy. Whether one is experiencing a loss for the first time or the tenth time, grief and the overwhelming feelings that come along with the holiday season can be present. Those going through a loss or experiencing a loved one at their end of life may struggle with the emotional highs and lows they may be experiencing this time of year. Some are experiencing loneliness, due to having lost their loved one, who they had spent the holidays with regularly in the past. Some will have to join holiday events for the first time solo, causing sadness and anxiety, while navigating their “new normal”. Others may simply be missing someone no longer with them this year. Many are experiencing their first holiday season as a grieving spouse, child or grandchild. Navigating the holiday season while experiencing grief and loss can make people withdraw, both emotionally and physically, not wanting to feel like they are dampening others' good times with their own grief, thus self-isolating. It is important to reach out to friends and family who are experiencing grief during the holiday season and to understand that it is important to be sensitive to those experiencing a “new normal” this holiday season. Encourage those experiencing loss to attend festivities if they feel up to it, with the understanding they may not be their usual self.


Some friends and family may not be able to attend holiday festivities due to caring for a loved one on hospice, which can intensify feelings of isolation. Be mindful to reach out to those caring for loved ones on hospice or those on hospice themselves. If health allows, try to visit with them if able and if they are receptive, to help encourage socialization.


Older adults are also vulnerable to loneliness and isolation during this time of year. Weather conditions, mobility issues and chronic illness make it hard for them to leave their home. Some have already lost their significant other, some may not have family near them or may not have any family at all and are spending time alone, with only their loved ones memories. The holiday season is always busy but checking in on friends and family, sending cards, or paying a visit if time allows can mean the world to someone who is spending the holidays alone.


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