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Coping with Loss around the Holidays

Posted Dec 03 2012 1:52pm
It’s that time of year again - the holidays. To paraphrase Charles Dickens’ famous quote, “It is the best of times. It is the worst of times.” I never understood that quote or how people could dread such a wonderful time of year as the holidays until the year that my sister died of colon cancer. I dreaded that first holiday without her. But it actually was very therapeutic for me to gather with our family and friends. What really helped that first year was realizing that I was still connected to a loving community of family and friends despite my loss.
Reaching Out
The holidays can be a difficult time for families battling illness or loss, as you know. One of the most important things grief counselors advise is to set realistic goals. Give yourself permission to tweak family traditions to make the holiday manageable for you and your loved ones and allow yourself time to grieve. My niece battled her grief by playing her mom’s favorite music and rereading her letters and cards. And when she was ready to reach out, she turned to her aunties for support. That support grew into the occasional “Auntie’s Weekend”.

Starting New Traditions
Don't be afraid to start new traditions. They can be energizing. My family started a tradition of visiting a museum over the Christmas holiday. It’s fun and it gets people outside and moving. Other families create a photo album, share family stories about a deceased loved one, or create opportunities to connect with friends and neighbors. There’s no right or wrong way to deal with loss. However you manage the holidays, remember to take care of your own health during stressful times and don't be afraid to reach out for help. We all need it at one time or another.

Your Turn: Post a comment on how you have coped with holiday stress or grief. And don’t forget to click back to the Susie’s Cause web site for more information on colon cancer.

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