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Grieving and the Holidays

Posted Dec 03 2012 2:44pm

I have heard many people say they hated the holidays and wished they could sleep though them. I have always loved the holidays, even though there have been hard times and even the loss of a child. I have found that reaching out to others and finding ways to help them is the best way to get rid of grief, feeling lonely, and stressed. I think those who have the greatest trouble with holidays are lonely singles or widows who have no family or other support. If grief is overwhelming, then a counselor or a grief support group may be helpful. One of my favorite parents lost her son, as a teenager to Duchenne muscular dystrophy. The mother had never been to college, so she decided to get a college degree and then her MSW. She became a grief counselor at the local hospital and helped countless people. I was always impressed at what she did. She could have stayed at home and wallowed in her grief making life miserable for everyone around her.

One of the things I did when I was first divorced was to start some new traditions at holiday-time. One of the most fun was inviting singles and their children to join us for Christmas dinner. Everyone brought something and we had a special party for the children in our patio. They had their own food and games and my two children were hosts. I was on-call that first Christmas and had hoped to have few calls, but a parent called just as the guests were arriving saying her child had a 105 degree temperature. I immediately met them in the local emergency room and found spinal meningitis, after doing a spinal tap. Several hours later I headed home just in time to see the guests leaving. Everyone said my two children, ages eleven and thirteen, had been great hosts. So new traditions and doing things in different ways, plus treating yourself now and then, can help you handle grief and get you through the holidays.

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