Holiday Grief


When you lose someone you love/Your life becomes strange...All you can depend on now is that/Sorrow will remain faithful to itself.

-John O'Donohue

This sentiment can feel especially true as you gear up to celebrate the winter holidays without your loved one. Holidays thread the years in their remarkable rituals of food, lights, gifts, music and religious, cultural and secular observances. But for many, the holiday season may bring on a sense of foreboding as they anticipate heightened feelings of loss. How can we shift the dread while honoring the grief? 

Here are some suggestions:
  • Leading up to the winter observances, keep a small journal and write down three things that brought you joy or peace during the day. Nothing big, just little things you noticed.
  • Record the emotion, body feeling and thoughts accompanying each moment of joy or peace. Even in the worst of times, finding the good is worthwhile.
  • Avoidance is not a bad thing. Our bodies and minds are informing us that there may be something emotionally or mentally overwhelming. Grief during the holidays is full of triggering sights, sounds, smells, events and people. We are not the same as we were, and festivities of non- grievers can be too much to bear. Be mindful of your needs.
  • For some, having a plan and a backup plan reduces the pressure. Life is not as it was. You may want to shut down for the day. You may want to release yourself from some tasks or preparations that you have done in years past. You may want to participate in a limited fashion. Listen to your body and don’t push yourself. You’ve suffered a loss. This is a sacred time. You have nothing to prove to anyone. Surround yourself with people who love and accept you and your grief.
  • If you are typically the person who arranges holiday celebrations, have a family meeting in person or by phone. Discuss ideas from important family members (don’t forget the children) and friends on how best to honor the grief and holiday rituals. Remembering your loved one and the memories made with them can be incorporated in the simple candle lighting ceremony detailed on page two.

We here at Hospice of the Western Reserve honor your grief and your loss. Grief support is available to you and your family. Peace to you all.

We Can Help

Speak with the referral team by contacting us seven days a week, 24 hours a day. Any first visit and admission can be made the first day.

Northern Ohio's Hospice of Choice

More than 1,000 Hospice of the Western Reserve employees and 3,000 volunteers live and work side-by-side in the same neighborhoods with our patients and families. We are privileged to have cared for more than 100,000 Northern Ohioans since our inception.