Coping with Grief During the Holidays

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

This is the fifth holiday season I am embarking on without my mom. Does it get easier? In a way , yes But in other ways, no. It's always been important to me to share what I know and anything that can help others on here. So I want to share my advice, experience on grieving during the holidays.

Let yourself grieve and feel the loss. My first holiday season without my mom I can barely recall. But I do know I did the same activities as the year before when my mom was there. Got up. Unwrapped presents from my sister. Got dressed. Went to my dads. Then went off to my uncles. Same exact routine. There was no place in that routine to acknowledge my mom was gone. That it was OK if I wanted to sit home and remember her. Let yourself miss that person. And let yourself change or alter a routine if you need to. Do not let others tell you how to grieve.

It was then the next year when we had Christmas Eve at my mom's house, the house I still lived in by myself. My sister and uncle made the decision and I never said no. I was working and came home to everyone there that had eaten dinner without me. Talk about remembering my mom when she would have never let anyone celebrate and eat without me on Christmas Eve. Lucky for me, my best friend got engaged that Christmas Eve and gave me a reason to smile. Do not be afraid to say, "It's too much." Only you will know when it becomes a burden and bouncing around from place to place might not be the best fit for you to deal with your grief. Its ok.

Talk about them. Never let the great loss of someone be the elephant in the room. Laugh and joke about silly family traditions you had. OR maybe the time that person had a funny holiday moment. My favorite will always be this moment at her last Thanksgiving. It defines my mom more than any other picture. Just a little bit crazy.

Chances are, other people who lost the same special person in their life will enjoy the conversations about the person. And it might help with their loss during the holidays.

Most people will not understand. And you might want to yell and scream and shout at them when they are bouncing happily from house to house with all their loved ones in tow. "Why can't that be me?"You really do not understand and think about people experiencing a loss until you are there yourself. Then as you are on your grieving process, you think how it is for other people that have lost people before you. And you realize that you, yourself, never even saw the hurt that was present. So expect that same misunderstanding from even the closest of people to you.

Talk about the loss. If you are having a particularly rough day, talk about it with someone. If that makes you uncomfortable, start by saying that. "So I don't know how to talk about this with you but, I'm really missing my mom today and I need to talk to someone about it." Chances are, they will be more than happy to listen. And it will help you heal by just talking about how much the loss affects your holidays.Keeping the loss and pain in might only increase your feeling of loss and sadness.
1st Christmas without Mom; 1st Christmas with this special kitty

Acknowledge that some times it just plain stinks. If you wake up Christmas Eve and there is an ache in your heart missing that person, acknowledge it. It IS sad they aren't there with you and are missing out on holiday moments. But then do not let yourself dwell in it. Participate in the joy of the season and everything and everyone that is around you.

2011 Christmas

Reflect back to the previous holiday. I say this because every year it will be different. One holiday you don't think you want to do anything then the next you slowly add your old traditions back. The laughs and happiness flow back in and you remember the joy of the family and friends that are around you everyday. And it's when you remember the last year, that you see how you are healing and grieving. And just how strong you are for going year to year.

Celebrate the joy in your life as your loved one would have wanted.


  1. Thank you so much for that. It was definitely different for me to share but I hope it helps someone else. And thanks for sharing!

  2. Great post for those of us that are grieving the loss of our Moms . I had a evil Brother and sister in law tormenting me after Mom died continuously so I travel for years of holiday's after she passed and it was the best thing I ever did for myself. No need to feel pressure to stay with tradition if something more empowering and healthy feels right for you . I had great experiences and learned that I can break tradition and have a great valuable experience that is not holiday related. The holidays we spent with our Moms can never be recreated and to try to do so to me is useless and depressing. no matter how hard one might try those days are gone forever so I keep them in my memory and have new experiences every year .My Mom would be so proud of me traveling by myself and seeing new places, meeting new people and having worthwhile experiences that do not involve sitting around a table with people pretending everything is ok. I highly recommend breaking from the tradition and doing something wonderful for yourself.

  3. Thank you for the kind words and advice. We are considering that next Christmas we will be away on a tropical island for Christmas. This year it has become a lot being pulled all which way and it would be great to just relax and have our own traditions. Happy holidays!!


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