Q: Why are anxiety, depression, and other mixed emotions so common during holidays?

A: Though most of us look forward to celebrating the holidays, they are often a hard time for anyone who has lost a loved one. Instead of being happy times, the holidays can worsen feelings of grief, sadness, and emptiness.

Bereaved people need to give themselves permission to grieve. Families should acknowledge the loss together - talking about the loved one allows them to keep memories alive. Ignoring your grief won't make the pain go away. Talking about it in a supportive environment may make you feel better.

The key thing to remember is there is no right or wrong way to celebrate the holidays after the death of a loved one. The best way to cope is to plan ahead, get support from others, and take it easy. Here are more tips:

Be kind to yourself. Handling your emotions may be the only job you can manage right now.

Express your feelings. Cry or rage if needed.

Ask for what you need. Others do not know what you need - like a ride to visit a loved one's grave - unless you tell them.

Help someone. It gets your attention off yourself.

Appreciate your other loved ones. It's normal to feel alone in your grief, but don't isolate yourself.

Resolve how to spend the holidays. There is no perfect solution. The season may be hard no matter what you do.

Celebrate as usual; many people wish to keep traditions intact. But some opt to start new traditions honoring lost loved ones.

Avoid the holidays if they are too hard. Do something new if it makes you feel comfortable.

You will survive the holidays; time is the best healer of grief.

Donna Raziano is chief medical officer of the Mercy LIFE (Living Independently for Elders) program in Philadelphia.