Written By: Debra Fitzgerald, LPC-MHSP, Mental Health Resources

During the holiday season we see reflections of family togetherness and sharing.  However, for those who have experienced a loss, sadness may seem sadder and loneliness may be deeper.  Holidays often magnify feelings of loss.  There are sights, sounds, and smells that may trigger memories of our loved ones who are no longer with us.  However, holidays don’t come from stores—they come from the heart and the memories shared.  There are no simple guidelines that exist for the hurt you may be feeling. Your grief is unique, and you are the expert.  No two people grief the same.  It is important to acknowledge your feelings rather than hold them inside and talking about your grief often makes you feel better.  Find caring friends and family who will listen.

Self-care is important during this time. Some ideas include:

  • Eliminate unnecessary stress; being aware of your physical and psychological limitations. It is important to listen to what your mind and body are telling you
  • Recognize your need for special time for yourself but avoid isolating behaviors. Be patient with yourself
  • Try the holidays in a new way! Give yourself permission to start new traditions.  Grief allows you permission to evaluate what parts of the holidays you enjoy and those you do not.  Recognize that family/friends may try to tell you what they feel is good for you during the holidays.  Know that it is ok to focus on what you want to do during the holidays.

Think of some ways to remember your loved one during the holiday season.  This could be perhaps sharing stories of holiday memories and what made them special or making a donation in memory of your loved one.  You may feel you will never enjoy the holidays again.  True, they won’t be the same as before, but with time you will find meaning again. Sometimes it is helpful to talk to a professional who can help you process your feelings during this difficult time.

“If your memories bring laughter, smile.  If your memories bring sadness, then it’s all right to cry.  Memories made in love can never be taken away from you.”  – Dr. Alan D. Wolfelt