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Finding joy during the holidays can be difficult if you have experienced a loss, whether it’s a loss of a partner or loved one, or some other big change in your life like a job, a divorce or illness. Grief is a lot to process at any time of the year, much less when others around you appear to be glowing with annoying holiday spirit. Your own good memories can become haunting instead of joyful, as you feel forced to realize how much your life has been changed by the loss.

The first step in coping with grief during the holidays is to prepare for it in advance. Below are 10 helpful ways to help you make the best of “the most wonderful time of the year.”

Surround Yourself with Loved Ones

Don’t isolate! Do not hide the fact that you are grieving. Surround yourself with family and friends who understand. They can be there to help you through the process, especially if they have been through a similar situation. Having a good support system in place will help make it a little easier. If you’re all alone, go where there are other single people, like a mall, a gym or yoga class, or the movies. If you’re not mobile, watch movies or TV shows that make you laugh. You can also consider adopting a pet for companionship!

Help Someone Less Fortunate than You

Spending time helping others will help take the initial focus off yourself and place it on someone else who is in need. Consider volunteering at a local shelter or soup kitchen, or donate time or toys to your favorite charity. Spend time with people in nursing homes who may not have family of their own. Volunteering and helping others during this time will also help to give you a greater sense of fulfillment, self and purpose. Don’t be surprised if you find it difficult to volunteer at a charity that’s related to your loss. You might want to pick something completely different, and not associated with your grief. On the other hand, everyone is different, and many become inspired and motivated to donate time and money to the exact cause that has taken their joy for the season.

Take a Vacay

Maybe you want to get away so you do not have to be at home during the holidays! Vacations have become an alternative outlet for those spending the holidays on their own, either by circumstances or choice. Many travel agencies or destination resorts offer packages that revolve around holidays for singles. Vacation may be just what you need to heal.

Create a New Tradition

Spending time thinking about old holiday traditions can be a painful reminder of the loss. Instead of drudging through painful memories, use this time to create a new tradition that makes you smile. Think of something new that you can do each year to make the holidays something to look forward to instead of something to dread. Be as creative as possible and see what exciting new traditions you can come up with.

Honor Your Beloved

Memories are one of the most important things that exist after the death of a loved one. It is important to find ways to honor your loved one and include them in the holiday festivities. Keep in mind that memories are tinged with both happiness and sadness. Embrace whatever emotion the memory creates. Consider lighting a special candle, creating Christmas ornaments using your loved ones photograph, cooking their favorite dish, visiting one of their favorite places, or singing their favorite holiday song. And remember, there’s nothing wrong with a good cry.

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