Holidays and Grief


BY: Diane Snyder Cowan

CATEGORY: Grief and Loss

The inevitable question grieving people ask at this time of the year is, “How will I ever get through the holidays?” Whether it’s the first or second holiday season they face, the added strains can create increased pressure for people already experiencing the intense feelings of grief. So how do you “get through” them? There is no single answer. Let this be the guiding thought: Do what is comfortable for you.

Be mindful –Anticipating the day is often much worse than the day itself. Recognize that the holidays will be different this year. In addition to the absence of your loved one, you too are different this season. Slow yourself down by taking deep breaths. Do what feels comfortable and remember to take time to nurture yourself.

Plan – Talk over your plans with the family. Respect each other’s choices and needs while preserving your own, and compromise as needed. Avoid additional stress. Decide what you really want to do and make changes where you can. Maybe purchase gift certificates this year instead of dealing with the large crowds at shopping malls, or ask someone else to bake the cookies or holiday dinner.

Consider rituals and traditions – Family traditions may have changed since the death. It may seem like nothing is the same as it used to be or everything is exactly the same, except that your loved one is missing. Rituals support the connection and bond between you and your loved one. Consider honoring your loved one by lighting a candle, donating a gift in his or her memory or creating a new ritual.

Look ahead – The past year has been a change event for you. As you look towards 2019, consider all that has occurred and what you have learned. As you search to find meaning in the loss and revise your life story, you may begin to understand some of what has happened and find a bridge between the past and future that makes sense to you.

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