Dealing With Loss During the Holidays

Submitted by OUR HOUSE Grief Support Center

loss during the holidays’Tis the season to be merry, but for grievers the holidays are fraught with emotions and decision making may be complicated. Families are reminded that the children are grieving, too. Far too often, children are excluded when decisions are made about which holiday rituals and traditions from the past to uphold and when to create new ones. Offer opportunities that will help them maintain their precious memories and engage in joyful, child-centered activities that allow them to enjoy their childhood. 

For example: 

  • Decorate plain paper with holiday-themed stamps or stencils and wrap a toy to 
donate to an emergency shelter or hospital. 
  • Bake holiday cookies to serve to guests or deliver to a retirement community. 
 
  • Design and laminate a decoration featuring a photo of your loved one. 

If you are supporting someone who is grieving, understand that people react in different ways. They may want the closeness of 
friends at times and need space at other times. Invite the person to social events and allow them to change their mind at the last minute if they decide they do not want to attend. 

When you are with someone who is grieving, start the conversation. Use the name of the person who has died and share your 
memories about that person. You might even consider making a donation in memory of the person who died, or to offer to just sit and be with the person who is grieving while they write letters, 
wrap presents or address holiday cards. Know that it helps just to offer a listening ear. You aren’t expected to say any magic 
words that will make them feel “all better.”
 

OUR HOUSE Grief Support Center offers some suggestions for adult grievers as well, keeping in mind that different choices can be made again next year: 

  • Maintain traditions that feel comforting and let go of those that no longer feel right. For example, if the thought of preparing your typical holiday meal is too overwhelming, take the year off and order in or go to a favorite restaurant instead. 
 
  • Create new traditions or meaningful rituals.
For example, design or purchase a new holiday decoration that you will hang in memory of your loved one. 
 
  • Make a toast in memory of your loved one.
Chances are, everyone at the table will be aware that the person who died is not there … so why not share sentiments together? 
 
  • Remember that it is OK to laugh, cry, sing or dance whenever you feel like it. 
 
  • Prepare special foods or bring your loved one’s favorite dish to a holiday party. 
 
  • Allow yourself time alone as well as planning time to be with others. 
 
  • Do some volunteer work that would be meaningful to your loved one. 
 

May this holiday season bring you comfort, strength, peace, and hope. 
 

OUR HOUSE Grief Support Center has helped thousands of grieving children, teens and adults as they embark on their journeys to hope and healing after the death of someone close. Support groups specific to age and relationship take place in the safe, warm and nurturing environment of their centers. OUR HOUSE also offers workshops, seminars and in-service training to mental health and medical professionals, clergy, educators, and other members of the community who interact with bereaved families. To learn more, visit www.ourhouse-grief.org or call 888-417-1444.  

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