Coping with loss during the holidays


Commentary by Jennifer Williams

Facing the holidays after experiencing the death of a loved one can be a painful and stressful experience.  One may be tempted to cancel all holiday observances and to distance oneself from family and friends.  The isolation and loneliness can intensify the feelings of grief and despair.

Conversely, some family members may want to avoid the subject of the loss altogether because they think that not talking about it will somehow make the holidays easier.  This can make a grieving person feel as though their loved one is being forgotten.  Here are some small steps that can be taken to help bring light back into one’s life and comfort to this difficult season.

The first, and possibly most difficult, is to accept that this holiday season will be different than those of past.  Open your mind to the changes and try to accept them willingly.  Instead of withdrawing, try planning a special tribute for your family, privately honoring your loved one, or attending a support group.  Finding the right way to bring yourself peace during this time of year can make all the difference.

Secondly, reach out to people around you: friends, neighbors, family or organizations and join in their holiday observances.  Our friends and loved one’s want to help, sometimes they just don’t know how.  There is no right answer when it comes to facing loss. Sometimes having a shoulder to cry on or an open-hearted listener are the best gifts you can receive this holiday season.

Thirdly, think of ways to create a new tradition for the holiday season.  It can begin as something small and evolve over time. Perhaps try a new recipe, help someone in need or participate in a form of volunteerism.  Helping others is a wonderful way of bringing light in to our own lives.

“When someone you love becomes a memory, the memory becomes a treasure.”  – Unknown

The holidays remind us of all the wonderful times we spent with our loved ones.  Try to focus on the cherished memories of your loved one and pass along that love to those around you as a way of honoring your bond.



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