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Grieving During the Holidays

December 1, 2022

Grief looks different for everyone, especially during the holidays. This year it may be a deeply grieving holiday season for you. You don’t feel like going anywhere and there is nothing that anyone can say or do to lift your burden. You may desire happiness, but that possibility seems as distant as the moon. Or perhaps your grief comes and goes in waves, crashing at unpredictable moments. From peaceful sea to powerful storm, whatever your situation, you are not alone.

There are people who care about you who struggle for words and not know what you need. There are also fellow grievers needing comfort. We want to share five ideas that we hope will help get you through this holiday season with a real sense of peace and joy in your heart.

Things to Remember This Holiday Season:

1. You need people.

It may be tempting to stay at home and avoid events that you attended with your loved one. However, staying at home can make grief even more lonely than it needs to be. How about inviting someone else to go with you? Perhaps a single friend who is also lonely this season? Maybe you can change a few things so it’s the same but different, for example, eat at a new restaurant beforehand, wear a new outfit, and talk at a coffee shop on the opposite side of town afterward. Above all, plan an uplifting outing. Attend a joyous children’s Christmas program or a worshipful cantata at a local church. The idea is to make good, new memories.

2. Grief does not have a timetable.

You may feel pressured by well-meaning loved ones to wrap up grief in a package and be done with it. Grief is a funny thing; it comes with a different timetable for each person. Try not to take their pressure personally and communicate that you appreciate their intentions. But calmly communicate that you are not ready to be what they want you to be. However, you must choose to not allow yourself to be overwhelmed by your grief. It’s okay to have moments, but you are alive, so you need to live! If you need help, there are counselors and ministers available to help you. Admitting you need help is a sign of ownership and strength.

3. People need you.

Hey, wait – this sounds a lot like #1? You’re right. Just as you need people … people need you. Family, friends, neighbors, and some people you have not even met yet, need you! It usually helps us while we are grieving to think about how we could minister to someone else who is also grieving. You understand what they are going through unlike most people they know, and that can be extremely comforting. Your empathy can be a refreshing, safe place to go to for friendship and a listening ear. Try to think of how you can minister to someone who is going through a hard time, and you will likely find yourself encouraged and refreshed in the process.

4. Do something special to remember your loved one.

A good question to ask might be, “How would they want me to remember them this year?” Maybe they would want you to visit a place where you made a sweet memory together. Or perhaps they would want you to donate toys to needy children in their honor. You knew them best, so trust your instinct to know how they would want you to make it through this holiday season. Honoring their memory will probably be painful, but it will probably surprise you how much comfort it can also bring to your heart.

5. Just take the next step.

It could be that last year at this time you were a bundle of tears and swathed in the depths of grief. Or maybe that is where you find yourself this year. It is okay and grieving is important. If that was where you were last year and you find yourself teary occasionally but not as weighed down by grief, don’t feel guilty about it. It doesn’t mean that your love for your family member or friend is waning. It is very likely that they would be happy to see that you are taking steps to build a life without them. And they would not want you to feel guilty about it. Take one step at a time, and don’t worry if you take a step back. The important thing is that you are moving!

We hope that these tips will help you this holiday season. You are important and you are loved!


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