Surviving & Thriving Over the Holidays

Posted by: Dr. Justin D'Arienzo, Psy.D., ABPP

Surviving & Thriving Over the Holidays


Surviving & Thriving Over the Holidays

November 17, 2021

2021 has been a very difficult year for everyone. A lot of you have lost family or friends to COVID-19, political division, divorce or other accidents, tragedies & health related concerns. There’s been a lot of loss this year & your life has changed because of it. Your view on the holiday season might’ve changed too. I want you to know, you are not alone in your struggles & you will get through the holidays – even if that means leaving your old rituals behind to create new ones.

Coping with the Loss of Your Loved One

If you’re like most people that have experience a lot of loss, you’re probably anxious, depressed or dreading the holidays coming because maybe you’re not going to be with your family, your kids or another special person that is not in your life anymore.

First of all, I have to tell you there are no set rules in terms of how to cope. The most important thing is surviving but hopefully we’re able to thrive a little bit and create some new memories or rituals despite the loss.

One way to handle the loss of somebody that has passed away is putting out a place setting at Christmas and Thanksgiving in their honor. You should share memories and pictures of them during the festivities. Even if it might be painful, you shouldn’t shy away from saying their name. Every time you say the name of somebody that’s been lost, their life continues.

Your Reality is What You Make It

You don’t want to spend a lot of time wishing your life was different. Your life is the way it is today so you have to make the decision to make the best of it. You cannot wallow in sadness forever. You can spend a little time there but I don’t want you spending days in sadness.

If being around family or friends who remind you of those you lost is too difficult or uncomfortable for you, it’s okay to do something different and make new memories or rituals. You could take a trip or try out a new restaurant. What it’s not okay to do is to spend time in isolation – even if that’s all want to do.

Challenge the Status Quo

I challenge you to build one more relationship or improve a relationship that you already have this holiday season. Every time there is a a social event or a family gathering, I want you to target one person and I want you to get to know them better. I want you to challenge yourself to do that for every holiday event.

Be bold this holiday season by creating new memories or rituals and building better relationships.