The holidays can be a very difficult time for those who are grieving. The holidays are all about spending time with family and friends. The holidays are all about traditions such as special meals or special trips or special gifting rituals or special gatherings.

I remember my first holiday season after the death of my husband. I went away to be with family, but felt like I was in the wrong place. I felt so conflicted that I actually developed a bad cold. With senses numb from sneezing and coughing, the days somehow seemed more manageable.

I think many grievers become overwhelmed with conflicting feelings during the holidays. Questions arise about how to best cope during this festive season when you are not feeling festive.


1) Really be honest with yourself. Your loved one is gone physically. Acknowledge that no matter what you do, things won’t be the same. I believe that this acknowledgement can really help alleviate confusion and frustration.

2) Decide to take control of your participation in holiday events. Ask yourself if you
want to continue with previous traditions. And if you do, be clear about the reasons you want to continue with these traditions. You have lost your loved one. You had no control over that, but you do have control over how you choose to spend your holiday.

3) Consider volunteering at a shelter or soup kitchen. Sometimes a few hours spent helping others can really begin to alleviate feelings of sadness and loss.

4) Consider some different holiday options. If you have always stayed home, consider going away. Visit friends, go hiking, or take a road trip.

While the holidays can be a difficult time for grievers, it can also be a time to really review what is important in your life. Writing about your feelings can be a very informative and empowering experience. If you don’t already have a journal, pick up a blank notebook at your office supply story and just begin writing about your feelings regarding the holidays and holiday traditions. Writing causes thinking. Your inner wisdom will guide you as you allow the writing process to unfold.

As you become clearer about your feelings you will begin to feel a sense of inner empowerment. This feeling of empowerment is one of the transformative gifts that can unfold through the grieving process.

Consider your options. As you begin to discover your options and realize that you do have choices, the holidays can afford you the opportunity to see more deeply into your own identity as a griever, but also as someone who is moving through and beyond your grief.

Author's Bio: 

Sandy Clendenen lost her husband and best friend in 1999, after twenty-one years of marriage. Her grief process was lengthy and complex. Sandy felt stuck in layers of unresolved grief. As part of her heaing, Sandy filled numerous journals with her thoughts and feelings. A review of these journals several years later revealed insights into the grief process which Sandy is now committed to sharing with other grievers. Sandy attended seminary for 3 years. She also received her Master of Arts in Counseling Psychology. Sandy has also worked in various areas of hands on healing. Sandy incorporates her vast personal experience and education into her grief coaching products and services.

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