The Five Stages of Grief: Navigating Loss During the Holidays


Understanding the five stages of grief can help individuals process their loss. This blog post will explore the different stages of grief and provide some coping strategies to help you navigate through the holiday season. 

The Five Stages of Grief 

The five stages of grief, as described by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, include denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Understanding these stages is crucial in the grieving process since everyone’s experience is unique and can vary.  


In the denial stage, people may feel numb and unable to process the reality of their loss. It can feel like a blur, where one may pretend that everything is normal, despite experiencing loss. Coping with this stage may involve talking about your feelings with a trusted friend or family member.  


The anger stage is often marked by feelings of frustration, resentment, and even rage. This stage is where one may ask, “Why me?” They might blame either themselves or others for the loss. Finding healthy outlets for these emotions such as journaling or exercise can help.  


During the bargaining stage, people may begin to bargain with a higher power or themselves in an effort to try and make sense of their loss. In this stage, one can make promises of good deeds in exchange for the one thing they’ve lost or bring them back. 


This stage is the most painful and can often feel like despair. One may feel numb, guilty, alone, or like they’ll never be happy again. Engaging in therapy could be helpful in managing depression. 


This last stage is where one learns to accept the reality of the situation. One may still feel pain, but they begin to accept the fact that their loved one is no longer here and start looking towards the future.  

Strategies for Coping with Grief During the Holidays 

The holiday season can be a challenging time for people who have lost loved ones. It can trigger feelings of sadness, guilt, and loneliness. It’s important to understand that everyone’s journey through grief is unique and that it is okay to feel multiple emotions at once. Here are some effective ways to cope with grief during the holiday season: 

Allow Space to Grieve  

Allow yourself to feel your emotions, whether it’s anger, sadness, or depression. Sometimes just knowing that this is normal can help in the grieving process. Remember that above all, grief and bereavement is a personal experience, and you should honor your path through it. 

Plan Ahead  

Planning ahead can help with the anxiety or sadness of not knowing what to do on the day. You can plan something with family and friends or choose to spend time alone with a good book or taking a walk. 

Create a New Tradition  

Creating a new tradition is a way to honor your loved one’s memory. If lighting a candle in their memory or making a donation in their name feels right, these could be new traditions to help mark the holidays. 

Seek Professional Grief Support

Know that you are not alone, and that support is available. Seeking professional help is empowering and okay. A therapist can provide the support you need to help you navigate through the holidays more effectively and with less pain. 

GoodTherapy is a trusted platform that assists millions of individuals connect with therapists, counselors, and mental health resources in their area. Find the support you need.  


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