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Oh No, The Holidays Are Here!

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A lot has been written about “getting through the holidays.” But, for someone who is grieving, words of hope and comfort can never be said often enough.

This week, virtually on the eve of both Christmas and Hanukkah, the visual cues announcing the holidays are almost overwhelming. Lights, decorations are everywhere, triggering feelings of loss and loneliness. Now, words of encouragement are needed more than ever, no matter how many times you have heard them before.


For some who grieve it is hard to absorb the impact of seeing families together, holidays shared, gifts of love, and lights burning bright. For many of those who walk with grief every day, this is a season of sorrow.

It seems to be apparent that this time of the year is meant for intact families, for wide-eyed children, for couples who share the ceremony of the season. How can anyone feel so isolated, so alone, when the whole world seems so joyous?

The New Year holds promise of new beginnings. But what does that really mean to someone who is grieving the loss of a husband or wife, a mother or father, or a child. This is the season to be jolly, but for those of us who are getting through the loss of a loved one it is difficult to see the bling or appreciate all that is good about this time of year.

We experience a range of feelings triggered by the holiday messages, sights, and greetings, but for each of us, personally, we are facing a very different, altered thought about what to expect this time of the year. It is most common to feel anxious, sad, angry, lonely, and to ask, “What am I doing here?”

There is some consolation in knowing that we are not alone. There is some relief in knowing that this season will pass. We can feel some identification with the thought that next year may bring a new reality. For sure, life will be different. We don’t know how but we do know that nothing stays the same.

For those facing the first holiday season following the loss of a loved one, the challenge is obvious. The grief is raw. But along with the challenge comes hope, and there are many ways to cultivate that hope. It may be helpful to reach out to family and friends, to give time to and pray for those who have less. It may also be helpful to make sure you are not alone, to make plans. You may need to remind yourself — it is okay to have myriad feelings — and to just let them be. Take a small risk, one step forward, one step at a time toward healing.

Our hearts, our spirits, like our bodies, are designed to heal, and in that positive thought lies our hope.

Wishing all of you a peaceful and safe Holiday Season.

By Susan Rowen, M.A., MFT