Grief During the Holidays

Grief During the Holidays

Every day without you since you had to go,
is like a summer without sunshine

and Christmas without snow.

I wish that I could talk to you,

there’s so much I would say.
Life has changed so very much

since you went away.

I miss the bond between us

and I miss your kind support.
You’re in my mind and in my heart

and every Christmas thought.

I’ll always feel you close to me

and though you’re far from sight,
I’ll search for you among the stars

that shine on Christmas night.

Author Unknown

Loss of a loved one is particularly painful during the holidays.  Whether the loss is recent, or many years in the past, there’s something about Christmastime that makes grief feel more poignant.

Maybe your family traditions will change, or maybe it’s the thought of putting on a cheerful face at holiday parties, attending solo, when once you were part of a couple.  Or maybe it’s finding recycled gift tags or old Christmas cards that include names of spouses, parents, or even children who are no longer with us. 

Holidays can be hard – it’s important to remember that if you aren’t looking forward to the season, you’re not alone.   Sadness, depression, and feelings of being overwhelmed are all perfectly normal, especially if you’re missing a loved one.

Here are some ways to take care of yourself this season:

Let Go of Expectations

Expecting your holiday to be the same as in past years, when your family has changed, is a recipe for disappointment. Try to keep an open mind and understand that emotions will be high this year for everyone. 

Give Yourself Permission to Sit It Out

Don’t force yourself to attend every holiday activity if you don’t feel up to it.  It’s okay to skip the cookie exchange party this year.  While it’s important to not isolate yourself when you’re feeling sad, it’s equally important to select social events that are most meaningful to you.  Let your friends and families know what you need this year.

Make New Connections

Even when you’re not up to your usual holiday activities, human connection matters. Volunteering, visiting seniors in a local home, and doing things for others – even strangers, can be a big help during times of sadness and grief. Something as simple as enjoying the morning paper at your local coffee shop, and buying a cup for a stranger, can boost your mood, and others’ as well.

Change It Up

Participating in holiday traditions without a loved one is hard.  Maybe it’s time to change it up.  Does your tradition include a Christmas movie at the theater?  This year, ask the family to go for a walk to look at lights, instead.  Do you usually ring in the new year at a friend’s  house?  Maybe this is the year to spend a few days with an out-of-town relative or friend, instead.

Give Yourself Grace

Remember that there is no right or wrong way to experience loneliness or sadness.  Acknowledge how you feel – it’s okay, and you don’t need to apologize.  Understanding that your emotions are normal, and are also temporary, is an important step toward healing. 

Your loved one is gone – but you’re still here.  And whether it’s your biological family, friends, church family, co-workers or neighbors – you are important.  You matter to those around you, and you matter to God.

Merry Christmas, and God Bless.

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