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  • Amanda Schmukler MSW,RSW

Grief and the Holidays


At this time of year, wherever we go we are greeted with the happiness and excitement of the upcoming holidays. Holidays mark the passage of time in our lives. They are part of the milestones we share with each other, and they generally represent time spent with family and close friends. However, holidays can also be some of the roughest terrains we navigate after a loss. Since holidays are for being with those we love the most, how on earth can anyone be expected to cope with them when someone we love has died?


For many, this is the hardest part of grieving, when the absence of the person we loved and lost leaves a gaping void. Holidays magnify that loss. The sadness deepens and the loneliness can feel isolating.


One of the best things you can do is give yourself permission to feel whatever it is you're feeling. Try not to fall prey to the belief that you must feel a certain way or do certain things in order to make the holiday “normal.” If you feel sad, allow the tears to come; if you feel angry, allow yourself to vent. It is equally important to give yourself permission to feel joy and gratitude, and to realize that experiencing happiness alongside grief does not undermine your feelings of loss.


This is often the time when the need for support may be the greatest. It is important to find the support that is right for you. Friends and relatives can be a great support during times of grief. Other good options include joining a bereavement support group or seeking individual counselling. Most of all, remember to be gentle to yourself as you travel through this difficult journey.