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7 Tips to Help Carry Grief Through the Holidays from a New York Therapist

Updated: Jan 30

grief counseling, mental health and the holidays, emdr therapy

As the holiday season approaches, many of us eagerly anticipate gatherings with loved ones, festive decorations, and the joyous spirit that fills the air. However, for those grappling with grief and loss, the holidays can bring a unique set of challenges. As a mental health counselor committed to a trauma-informed approach, I find it crucial to explore the intersection of grief and the holiday season through a lens that acknowledges and respects the profound impact of trauma.

Understanding Grief and Therapy in Westchester, NY:

Grief is a complex and individual experience. Whether someone is mourning the loss of a family member, friend, or even the end of a significant relationship, the holiday season can heighten feelings of isolation, sadness, and longing.

Grief knows no calendar. It doesn't adhere to festive decorations or holiday tunes; it ebbs and flows within its own timeline. When trauma is interwoven with the fabric of grief, it can intensify during these seemingly joyous times, heightening the ache of absence and amplifying the weight of memories.

Trauma-Informed Perspective:

A trauma-informed perspective emphasizes the recognition of the widespread impact of trauma on individuals and fosters an environment of empathy, safety, and understanding. When applied to grief during the holidays, this approach requires a nuanced understanding of how past traumas may be triggered by the festivities and traditions associated with this time of year. Therapy for grief can be wildly helpful for anyone struggling to manage their grief, especially during the holidays.

Navigating the Holidays:

Navigating grief during the holidays is a journey unique to each person. For some, honoring traditions or creating new rituals can provide a sense of connection and solace. For others, seeking solace in solitude or exploring alternative ways to acknowledge the season might be more fitting. Encouraging open communication within families and support networks is pivotal. Sharing feelings and needs can foster understanding and compassion, enabling loved ones to offer meaningful support.

7 Tips to help when carrying grief through the holidays:

1. Understanding Triggers

I encourage clients to identify potential triggers and understand how the holiday season might impact their emotional well-being. Recognizing triggers empowers individuals to proactively manage their reactions. Together we can explore ways to reduce exposure to these triggers or make plans to help you return to a state of regulation when triggered.

2. Validation and Normalization

It is crucial to validate and normalize the plethora of emotions associated with grief. Emotions associated with grief often co-occur and may appear to be in conflict with one another making them difficult to hold and experience at the same time. Individuals may experience guilt for not feeling festive or shame for burdening others with their sadness. By acknowledging these feelings as natural responses to loss, we create a space for healing and self-compassion.

3. Mindful Self-Care

Encouraging clients to engage in mindful self-care is essential during the holiday season. This might involve setting realistic expectations, establishing boundaries, and prioritizing activities that bring comfort and solace. Reminding individuals that it is okay to decline invitations or modify traditions helps empower them to navigate the holidays on their terms.

4. Creating New Rituals

Traditional holiday rituals may be emotionally challenging for those in grief. Encouraging the creation of new, personalized rituals can be a transformative way to honor the memory of a loved one. This might include lighting a candle, creating a scrapbook, or participating in activities that hold personal significance.

5. Building Support Networks

Trauma-informed care recognizes the importance of building and utilizing support networks. The holiday season is an opportune time to connect with friends, family, or support groups. Encouraging open communication about one's needs and boundaries fosters a sense of community and understanding.

6. Honoring Boundaries

Respecting boundaries is crucial. I help clients set realistic expectations for themselves and others, allowing them to prioritize self-care and choose how they engage with holiday-related activities.

7. Reflecting on Growth

Grief can be an evolving process, and the holidays provide an opportunity for reflection on personal growth. Encouraging clients to recognize and celebrate the resilience they have shown in the face of loss can be a powerful way to foster a positive mindset amid the challenges.

Approaching grief during the holidays with a trauma-informed lens requires compassion, sensitivity, and a commitment to understanding the unique needs of each individual. By acknowledging the impact of trauma, validating emotions, and fostering self-care, we can provide invaluable support to those navigating the complexities of grief during this season.

Together, we can create a space where healing is possible, and the holidays can be a time of reflection, growth, and connection.

Grief during the holidays is a reminder of the depth of human experience—a tapestry woven with both joy and sorrow. I hope to support individuals in navigating this intricate landscape with empathy, validation, and resilience.

Remember, healing takes time, and it's okay not to feel okay during this season. There is strength in acknowledging and embracing our emotions, and in doing so, we honor both our losses and our capacity for healing.


emdr therapy, grief counseling, Scarsdale, ny Westchester ny

Annabella Lipson is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor at Peaceful Living Mental Health Counseling. She specializes in grief therapy in Westchester, NY.


She enjoys working with young adults & adults who are dealing with grief, constant sadness, anxiety, PTSD and other heavy emotions that make it difficult to enjoy the present moment. 


Annabella has an innate ability to make her clients feel comforted and cared for as they confront their grief and loss.

Contact us to begin counseling and your healing journey. We have some availability to take new clients.


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