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Grief Takes No Holidays

For those experiencing grief and mourning, whether through death, separation, divorce, illness, job loss, or COVID, the holiday cheer and season can be stressful.

Facing Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year's Day with an empty chair at the table can make unbearable grief so much worse. After the death of my second husband in November of 2010, I had to go through those holidays--my birthday in November, our anniversary in December, his birthday in January, and Valentine’s Day all while in the very deep dark place of grief. Also, in winter, when the days are short, cold and dreary…your grief can seem relentless!

Many people believe that anyone who has experienced great loss should be “over it” in six months or so. If only that were true. Emotions of the recently bereaved are terribly raw. It can be difficult to cope in social situations during the holidays, when tears would be out of place. During the holidays, many who are dealing with loss are often caught in a dilemma between the need to grieve and the pressure to “get into the spirit” of the season.

But holidays can stimulate memories and a renewed wave of pain, which feels even more pronounced. And it’s not only holidays that may trigger deep feelings of new or renewed grief. As I mentioned, birthdays, anniversaries and other special occasions present a challenge for many, even after a number of years have passed.

While the experience of grief may ebb and flow, we should not expect it to just disappear. You do not just ‘get over it’ but you will find a new way of feeling. While it’s normal to hurt during the holidays, it’s also possible for the human heart to hope, heal and be happy once again.

Tending Grief

Here are a few thoughts/suggestions to sit with:

  • Grief is a natural process that needs to be experienced

  • It's important to talk about your feelings and work through them

  • You can't just "get over" grief - it will take time for you to heal

  • Seek help from friends, family, and professionals if needed

  • There are many ways of coping with grief - find what works best for you

  • Find joy in life again by focusing on the things you love most

  • Try to accept your grief and when you are ready…even embrace it.

After all, grief is a deep expression of your love!

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