grief and the holidays

When I found out that I was going to be on Fox 5 news this week, talking about my book, Dead Dads Club, and discussing grief during the holidays, (see video below), I had no idea that our entire nation would be in mourning this week. The events in Newtown, Connecticut have left us all speechless and terrified and saddened beyond all measure, and now, during this time of year, we are all faced, on some level or another with how to handle the pain amidst the joy of the season.

UPDATED: Here is the clip from the Fox 5 morning news and below are some more tips and helpful resources for people who are grieving this holidays season:

Tips on handling grief this time of year – 

  • Give yourself a break – Whether your loss was recent or twenty years ago, this “joyful” time of year is certain to bring back painful memories of your loved one. Give yourself permission to take some time away from the holiday cheer and feel your grief. Cry as much and as often as you need to. If you find yourself short-tempered or depressed, it’s okay. It’s to be expected and you can forgive yourself.
  • Know that there will be grief triggers – Nearly every time I hear “I’ll be Home for Christmas,” I start to cry, no matter where I am or what I’m doing. It can be embarrassing but hey, that’s just the way it is. It is important to realize what kinds of things trigger you, and try to avoid the things that might be just too painful.
  • Make new traditions – This is particularly important for the first few years after a major loss. Anna of an Inch of Gray has a beautiful post about how she and her family have created a new tradition for Christmas ornaments since the tragic death of her son, Jack.
  • Get away – Being in your own home or even your hometown might be too painful for the first year or two after the loss, so go away for the holidays, on a cruise or a mini vacation.
  • WRITE it out – I’ve discovered through working on my book and through writing this blog that writing is therapy. It can certainly be painful, and boy do the tears flow, but ultimately it is a cathartic, healing experience that will make you feel closer to your loved one.
  • Utilize resources: Some of the grief resources I recommend are:, the book, Healing: The Essential Guide to Helping Others Overcome Grief and Loss, and the bereavement department of the San Diego Hospice.

Another post from Anna that I love is her post on the subject, “What You Can Do To Help a Grieving Family.” She has a majorly comprehensive list so be sure to check it out if you know someone who is deeply grieving.

My top three suggestions on how to help someone who is grieving during the holidays would be:

  • Call, text, tweet, show love however you know how, and just let them know you’re thinking of them. It may seem simple, but it helps, I promise.
  • When you do call, text, tweet or whatever, don’t be afraid to talk about their loved one or to mention them by name.
  • Make a scrapbook of photos and/or memorabilia or give gift that represents their loved one. I love these MemoReflections where you can choose from various original landscape photographs and have the words, “An Angel Named ‘Margie’ Is Watching Over Us.”

What to Give a Grieving Loved one for holidays

If you yourself are grieving the loss of someone, please check the list below and check back on Wednesday a our #hugsfortheholidays where we encourage everyone to link up a post they have written about their loved one and also support others who are similar situations.

If you have had a miscarriage, stillbirth or lost an infant link here:

If you have lost your mom link here:

Your dad link here:

Your sibling link here:

A child link here:

A friend link here:

We have also created a special #HugsfortheHolidays Pinterest board so check it out for tips on dealing with grief and some inspiration to help ease the pain during this season.

Love and light.



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