Dealing With Loss Around The Holidays

For those of my readers who don’t know, I lost my dad in April 2013

Photo is from: The Quiet Front.

after a year and a half fight against Leukemia. Eventually his time to let go came. This was and still continues to be the hardest thing I have to deal with everyday.

This post isn’t about how to heal after losing a parent, or anybody in general because not even I know the answer to that yet- but more so, how to deal with that person not physically being there during the times where you feel their absence more than usual. After a loss, the joyful spirit of the holiday season may not necessarily represent how we feel inside.

For me, and most people I have spoken with who have lost somebody special- we have agreed, the holidays are the hardest. I miss my dad every single day. More than I could have ever imagined. But when all my family gets together on holidays, birthdays or big events- it just feels like this huge thing is missing. He is missing. And this is something that can’t ever be replaced. So how do you make it easier, Alyssa? How can I deal with it better?

First know, the loss of someone as important and close to you as a parent, at 18 years old, too, shakes your life up in ways that can never be fully healed. So I am not a miracle worker. You will not miraculously be okay with this person being gone- but I have learned to not cry buckets on holidays- and instead shed a few tears. And maybe I can help you, too.  (Note: Everyone grieves differently, and these tips may not help you- but this is what works for me.)

  1. Allow yourself to be sad.
    The worst thing that you can do is to ignore your feelings. Don’t act like you aren’t sad if you are! Suppressing your feelings only makes you feel worse in the long run. Whether you feel their absence at 9 in the morning while everybody is eating breakfast, or 7 PM while everyone is watching the big Football game- step aside and be alone for a moment. Go to your bedroom, the bathroom, or outside for a little walk. Allowing yourself to acknowledge your feelings is key to feeling better. If you stick around with all your guests and laugh when you aren’t happy- I promise- from experience, you will not have a nice time. If you need to cry, cry! Don’t stop until you feel you’re ready. Don’t go back to the party until you feel ready. And if you aren’t going to be ready, and you’d much rather be alone for the remainder of the day, THAT IS OK. Remember always, that you need to talk care of yourself and everybody will understand.
  2. Change is good.
    Creating a new tradition to remember your loved one is really nice. Making the conscious decision to spend a part of the day talking about this person will enable others to feel like they have permission to talk about him or her, too. It’s perfectly fine and acceptable to carry out the traditions that person had- but maybe change will help your grieving. Some people like to say a prayer, or look through an album. You can watch home movies, or sit down together to watch a movie that person loved. You can play their favorite album in the morning while getting ready, or simply have a minute of silence. Any little thing helps.On Father’s Day every year my siblings and I put a father’s day card on the shelf where his urn sits. It’s a small tradition that helps us deal with him not being there for that day. If you aren’t comfortable with an outward display of your feelings- you can also light a candle for your loved one. The past two years where it marked my dad’s passing- my family and I all lit candles for him. We also always spend that day together, and go to dinner.If your loved one is buried and it’s accessible for you to visit their grave, you can spend a little while every holiday at their burial site to say a few words, or bring flowers, an ornament or something that will make you feel like they are a part of the holiday, too.
  3. Tell someone. 

    This is sometimes one of the hardest things but it is something that will dramatically change how you feel. While you may feel worried about being perceived as the “downer,” it’s important to have at least one person who knows that your feelings don’t necessarily match the cheerful decorations of the season.

    Know that it’s OK to admit that it’s a difficult time for you. You are allowed to feel. For example- recently I was at a wedding, and I knew that the “Father Daughter dance” was just something I wasn’t going to be comfortable enough to sit through. So I told someone that I was going to step out during this time because I don’t think I can handle it. We spoke about it for a little and the person offered to step out with me. I felt ten times better afterwards knowing that somebody understood.

It is extremely natural to feel that you may never enjoy the Holidays again. They certainly will never be the same as they once were. However, in time, I have seen that most people are able to find meaning again as time goes on. The ways we handle them are as different as we are. What works for me, may not work for you. It is also important to remember the people that surround and support you during these times. Appreciate everybody that you have, for one day you might not anymore.

Now more than ever, be gentle with yourself. Don’t allow your feelings to be suppressed, or let people tell you that what you’re feeling isn’t allowed whether that person has been gone for 2 or 27 years. Don’t do more than you want, and don’t do anything that does not serve your soul and your loss.

Thanks for reading, and may the holidays be a tad bit easier for you and your family. If you feel that anybody could benefit from this blog post, please feel free to share.  If you have any anymore tips to share- why not post them in the comments below? Have a great Sunday!



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