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Grief During the Holidays: A Guide to Prioritizing Mental Health

The holiday season is often portrayed as a time of joy, celebration, and togetherness. However, for those who are grieving the loss of a loved one, the festivities can intensify feelings of sorrow and loneliness. Navigating grief during the holidays can be a challenging journey, and it's crucial to prioritize mental health during this delicate time.

Acknowledge the Pain:

Grieving during the holidays is a unique experience that many people face. It’s essential to recognize and acknowledge the pain rather than suppressing it. The pressure to be festive can at times lead individuals to ignore grief. However, embracing and understanding these emotions is the first step towards healing.

Create Space for Grief:

Give yourself permission to grieve. Understand that it’s ok to feel a mix of emotions during the holidays, and there is no right or wrong way to grieve. Allow yourself the time and space to reflect on the memories, both happy and sad, and recognize the significance of your loss. Establishing New Traditions:

Consider creating new traditions that honor and celebrate the memory of your loved one. Lighting a candle, preparing a favorite dish, or engaging in an activity you used to enjoy together can be meaningful ways to incorporate their presence into the holiday season.

Seek Support:

Grieving is a personal journey, but it doesn’t mean you have to face it alone. Reach out to friends, family, or support groups who understand and empathize with your experiences. Share your feelings, and don’t hesitate to ask for the support you need. Reach out to your summer camp community-FACES community and ask for a hug, a text, a call. This is also part of your community that can foster support and connection in times of joy-and hardships. Friends can be crucially beneficial in a support system. Feel the warmth and love. 

Set Realistic Expectations:

The pressure of the holidays can be overwhelming. It’s OK if the holidays look different this year. Focus on what feels manageable and set boundaries.

Seek Professional Help:

Make mental health a priority. This includes sleep, nutrition, boundary setting, self-care and time to grieve. It may also be advisable to seek professional help if feelings and thoughts feel overwhelming.

Navigating the terrain of mental health while personally experiencing grief is an intricate journey that demands both self-compassion and a commitment to understanding one's own emotional landscape. As someone who has grappled with loss, I've come to appreciate the profound impact grief can have on mental well-being. The waves of sadness, moments of introspection, and the unpredictable nature of emotions underscore the importance of acknowledging the symbiotic relationship between grief and mental health. Remember that healing is a process.

Grief Support Group:

I facilitate grief support groups for our craniofacial community and would be honored to help. Feel free to reach out if you need support.


With kindness,

Vanessa Acero

Licensed Clinician, Craniofacial Advocate and FACES board member


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