Grief & the Holidays

Magdalena Stefanek, December 05, 2017

Many grieving individuals and families have found their way through the holidays by listening to their hearts, letting others help, and setting realistic expectations. It surely wasn’t easy, but they accepted that there would be other years, other holidays and better times. We’d like to share some of their wisdom with you. As time goes on, we hope that you begin to glimpse hope on your horizon. As Anonymous so wisely said, “This is not the end of joy.”

1. Give yourself permission generously – permission to miss what used to be, permission to change things that you need or want to be different, permission to change things back at another time, and permission to adapt and change your plans as necessary.

2. Anticipate what will be different without your loved one in practical ways. Is there someone who can help with the things he or she used to do to get ready for the holidays or should you let some of that go? Deciding (for yourself or as a family) what are the most important things can help you get a much clearer sense of what really matters and also avoid getting caught up in unrealistic expectations.

3. Find ways to memorialize and include your loved one in your traditions and celebrations. Say his name. Tell stories about her. Home-grown rituals are helpful — hanging your loved one’s stocking and filling it with notes or donations to charity, setting his place at the table, a plant in her memory taken to church, a special ornament, or a candle lit in his honor.

4. Take care of yourself. The things you do every day to maintain your health and wellness are even more important when you’re grieving through a stressful time.

5. Be patient with yourself and others. Be flexible and participate in the holidays to the extent that you can, without guilt or remorse.

If you or someone you know are looking for support this holiday season, please contact Rainbow Grief & Loss Services at 847-653-3141 or