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Grief Struggles – The Holidays

Holidays can be a difficult season to face for those of us who have lost a loved one. It can be a struggle to deal with all the festivities and celebrations of the holiday season. This season can go on forever as we see the marketing for it well before October and continuing through the end of the year. Even the after-sales go into the new year. As we’re grieving, it’s a challenge to get through the day, much less prepare for the holidays and get into the celebratory season. 




It’s perfectly normal and OK  to feel the ugh and not feel so merry and bright. It is also ok to let others know what you can do, what you want to do, and what you do not want to do at this point in your journey. 

Even in the best of times, holidays can be stressful and challenging. Take a moment and acknowledge this can be a stressful season. You may find it even more stressful at this point in your journey.. 

Give yourself some grace. Give yourself some time. Take it at your own pace. Say yes to what you feel comfortable with and no to those things that don’t feel right for you right now. Another suggestion that we have is to have a backup plan for the possibility of grief hitting you at an event. For example, let a friend or family member know that you may have to excuse yourself and let them help you withdraw yourself from any uncomfortable situations.

It’s also OK to prepare or not prepare in your own way. Do what makes sense for you. Remember, It’s OK to keep old traditions & It’s OK to have new traditions as well (click to read more).

Here are some ideas to support you as you prepare for the holidays. You get to do it your way and  in a way that works for you while you are traveling the widow journey: 

Consider these questions

  • What is important to you?
  • What about this particular season/holiday is important this year?
  • What do you want and need most now?

Once you have identified the things that are most important for you, you can then prepare yourself and plan for what you want and need.

Tips & Hints to Prepare for the holiday 

  • Acknowledge your emotions and feelings
    • Allow all of the feelings to flow
    • They may be more intense. Let them flow.
    • Take time for your grief.
  • How do you want to spend the day/week? 
    • Alone, working, surrounded by friends or family, relaxing, home, out of town? Whichever you choose to do, it will be OK. 
  • Take time for self-care – whatever that looks like for you.
    • Take a walk or bubble bath, spend time outside, get some sunlight, book a massage or other self-care appointment, have dinner with a friend, have dinner alone, watch your favorite movie, read a book, or wrap up in a snuggly blanket.  Whatever makes you feel comfortable and relaxed.
  • Do you know other widows/widowers? Maybe write or send them a note. Have a get-together.
  • Be mindful of food. We get it. Yummy food and binging may feel good in the moment; you may want to consider healthier alternatives or at least…portion control.
  • Call a friend and make plans with them for the day or event.
  • Thank others and tell them you love them.
  • Decide if you want to hang their ornaments, stockings, etc.
    • Do what feels right. It’s OK to do it your way.
  • Do you want to give presents to the kids from your lost love? 
    • Some do, and some don’t.  
    • This is another area where you want to do what is right for you and your children.
  • Consider if you’d like to do something in honor of your lost loved one.
    • Write them a letter or poem, save it, read it to them, burn it?
    • Visit their grave site or talk to their urn? Leave a flower or note?
    • Light a candle in honor. Sit with the loss.
    • Journal your thoughts, feelings, and desires.
    • Fix their favorite holiday food. Set a place for them or have an empty chair.
    • Share your favorite memories with your family, friends or children. 
      • How you first met, special moments, previous holidays.
  • Volunteer or Donate
    • Show someone or animals some kindness.
    • It’s a great mood booster.

If you’re feeling particularly stressed about the holidays, we’ve got hints and tips for you in this article: Holiday Stress & Widowhood.

Have you been invited to an event and wondered what to do or how to respond? We’ve written How to Survive a holiday event.

If you are feeling really low or overwhelmed – please get support from a professional – be that your spiritual leader, therapist, or coach. Know that you don’t need to do this alone, and asking for help and support is the first step to moving forward. 

May Peace and Blessings surround you. May you find comfort and joy in preparing for the holidays in YOUR own way.. Take care of yourself, breathe, and move at your pace. Know you are loved & not alone. 

Peace & blessings,
Jeni & Teresa

PS: For additional support, you can download our free copy of 10 Ways to Move Forward After Loss

The First Days: Coping with Life After Loss is a resource for the first days after a loss – available on Amazon in paperback.

My Journey as a Widow: A Widow’s First Journal  is a follow-on journal for processing complex emotions and moving forward with hope available on Amazon in paperback.

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