Coping With the Holidays

Support Group:  Every year during the winter holidays we offer a “Coping with the Holidays” General Bereavement (mixed loss) support group.  Call our office for more information:  541-552-0620.
This article talks about how difficult it is to go through the holidays after a loss and also gives tip about how to cope.
Grief & the Holidays

Holiday Tips – Especially if You Have Children

Holidays, birthdays, anniversaries, and other special dates can be especially difficult for grieving families.  Memories of your loved one and what you all are missing without them can flood your mind.  Sometimes it’s hard to even get out of bed as the winter holidays approach, with the darkness and colder weather.  Dread is a common experience.  Yet your kids will likely want a special holiday experience, so it’s important to figure out how to get through the holidays while creating some new traditions that are just yours in this new life without your loved one.

  • Go easy on yourself; you don’t have to do all the things you usually did before your loved one died.
  • Give yourself permission to skip sending cards, buy pies instead of bake, etc.
  • Get out of town, visit friends or family, or head to a place that you and your children can all enjoy, such as the ocean or a cabin in the woods.  Nature can be very healing to all of your family members.
  • Ask a friend to come over and decorate the house with your kids while you go somewhere else.
  • Ask a friend to take your kids shopping for you.  They will want to make you feel happy, and a friend can guide them in their gift selections.
  • Volunteer on the holiday: serve at a soup kitchen, sing at an assisted living facility, distribute blankets to the homeless, walk dogs at the humane society.
  • Set a place at the table for your loved one, and share memories.
  • Create an altar space in your home with pictures and other memorabilia, where your kids can do art, write a letter, and express their grief.
  • For Christmas, make a special ornament with your children to honor your loved one.
  • Make a CD of your loved ones’ favorite music to give as a gift.
  • Make a donation to a local nonprofit in memory of your loved one; have your kids get involved with the decision.
  • Join a support group that helps bereaved people get through the holidays.
  • Exercise, sleep, eat well, avoid addictive substances.
  • Keep breathing and placing one foot in front of the other, and soon the holiday will have passed.

Twelve Tips for Coping with the Holidays

by Julie Lockhart, December 2012

With the holidays coming, many of us who have lost loved ones may feel a sense of dread.  Every year I brace myself for what’s coming – decorations, songs, good cheer, shopping, and families gatherings.  Yikes, if I could hide under the covers until it’s over, I would.  But I have a daughter.  She was six when her Dad died eight years ago, so I have no choice but to face the holidays and make it memorable for my girl. Sometimes we host a big dinner party – I love to fill our home with good friends and laughter.  Some years, we travel to someplace warm to get away, just the two of us.  We’re looking forward to a road trip to Palm Springs this year.

I asked WinterSpring friends for some ideas on getting through the holidays, and here’s some of what they offered:

1.   Keep your commitments to a minimum.  Give yourself permission to lighten your load.

2.   We honor our loved one by starting new traditions.  For example, we choose a child from a Giving Christmas Tree and help make his/her Christmas that much brighter. 

3.   We do volunteer work for the day of the holiday – serving soup, distributing blankets to the homeless, or visiting a nursing home to sing.

4.   I made a candle with pictures of my Grandma all around it and we lit it in memory of her.  It felt like a little piece of her was there with us.  

5.   I honor my loved one by placing a special ornament on the tree.

6.   I go easy on myself and buy ready-made pies instead of baking them.

7.   I traveled quite a lot to other people’s homes to celebrate Christmas — sister’s, brother’s, daughter’s — so my youngest daughter and I would not be stuck at home alone during the Holidays. 

8.   One year I sent out CDs of my wife’s Favorite Christmas Music, another year a CD of all the old family Christmas pictures — copied by me (many hours of time).

9.   I sent cards with long, hand-written messages to all the people I loved — to stay in touch with those important to me. 

10.  I baked Christmas cookies for my siblings and children.

11.   Every year I make a fairly substantial donation to the Ashland Community Hospital’s “Tree With Lights” fundraising campaign, in my wife’s name, to help fund the birthing center, and include a notification to my daughters.

12.   Follow your instincts – Do only as much as you’re comfortable with doing.  If you don’t feel like sending holiday cards, don’t.  You don’t have to do anything you really don’t feel like doing.

May you find peace and be surrounded by love this holiday season.

Coping with the Holidays Packet


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