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To many people, the celebratory spirit of the holidays and the darkness of depression might seem like an unlikely combination. However, feeling down during the holidays is much more common than people realize. Perhaps the greatest challenge one could face during the holidays is finding a way to get through the season if you’ve lost a loved one.

Coping with death is vital to your mental health. There are things you can do during the holidays to mitigate the reminder of your loss. If your loved one was a key part of a family holiday tradition, consider starting new traditions. Or, in their honor, serve your loved one’s favorite meal or watch their favorite movie. Perhaps light a candle or share favorite memories of them. Some people choose to visit the grave or memorable spot while others “speak” to them through a journal.

When working through loss during the holidays, your mental health should come first. Exercise, spend special time with close family, or consider volunteering to help boost your mood. The critical thing is to do what feels right for you – whether loss is involved or it’s simply a case of the holidays getting you down.

Patience is important while grieving. It can take months or years to process the loss and adjust to the changes in your life. If your grief becomes too much to bear, seek professional help. And if you’re concerned your grief has evolved into depression, seek a clinician as soon as possible.

The holidays can be a difficult time for many. If you are struggling, remember that you are not alone. Help is always available.