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GRIEF OVER THE HOLIDAYS: Managing loss during these happy times

The holidays are centered around the themes of family and community. However, for some the holidays may be extremely challenging as many may be mourning the loss of a loved one, the loss of a relationship, the loss of job or any other number of misfortunate events.

Celebrations could highlight how alone people feel. If this is your first holiday season since loved one passes away, you must be asking if you should continue traditions while you are grieving.

Grief manifests itself to all those who are left behind. It shows in so many ways, it might be crying spells, depressed mood, sleep disturbances, changes in appetite, and even fatigue.

There is no right way to grieve, and grief is not a sequential process. Everybody and every family handle it in a unique way. Particularly during Christmas season, when the focus is on rebirth and renewal, this can again aggravate the sadness brought about by your loss.

Here are some coping methods that can help ease the grief and sadness of those who are mourning these holidays.

1. Decorate a memorial table in that person’s honor

2. Write a holiday story of your own

3. Visit those who are institutionalized

4. Travel some where you have always wanted to go

5. Give or volunteer time to those in need.

6. Give your love/attention to someone who may not be able to protect or love themselves

7. Shift the focus of the celebration to something positive

8. Go out for your holiday meal

9. Light candles in memory of the deceased loved ones

10. Decorate a remembrance tree

11. Visit the grave (go with a friend if possible)

12. Gather and share stories and memories of that person and use those stories to create a memory book/memoires

13. Light and launch paper lanterns or balloons (especially if to remember are children)

14. Say special prayers or offer a mass for them.

These strategies may seem simple but for some they will be very difficult as it may force us to deal with reality or memories that can be distressing. It is my belief that when we empty ourselves of all that weighs us down, grieves our spirits, or shuts us away from the light only then can your heart begin to heal and once again be free to feel, free to love and free to celebrate all of God’s beauty that life can bring.


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