"Coping with the Holiday Season After A Loss" by Penny Zielinski, LCSW

Oh, Joy the holiday season is here! The season that tugs at our hearts, makes us rejoice and brings excitement. At least, that once was our thoughts until we experience the death of a loved one and then our joy may turn to sorrow as we know this year won’t be the same.

How do we get through these weeks? The first step may be to acknowledge your feelings. Putting on a smile when we feel like crying will not alleviate the pain. A simple statement of “it is a strain for me this year” or “I don’t know how I’m going to get through the holidays” may open the door for a friend to support you in a special way.

Some traditions may be too difficult for you to continue this first year. It is okay not to put up the Christmas tree or lights outside. It’s alright to say no to all the invitations you may receive. Do what makes you feel comfortable.

It is important to take care of yourself physically as well. Eating properly and exercising will help relieve stress. It is easy to overindulge and then feel guilty.

Focus on the spiritual meaning of Christmas. Start a new tradition that will represent the meaning of love that you shared with your loved one. Purchase a new ornament for the tree in memory of your loved one or a special candle that represents the light your loved one has brought to your life.

If you find yourself alone during the holidays, invite other single people to join you for a simple dinner or coffee and dessert. It is good to focus on others by visiting a nursing home or helping with a community Christmas project. Volunteering is rewarding when you are giving a special gift of your time.

Christmas is a time of reflection and hope. Grief is a journey, and the road can lead to a new discovery of ourselves. It is not a brief journey, but with time and support the pain will lessen.

May God bless you during this holiday season and provide His comforting reassurance of His everlasting love.

Penny Zielinski, LCSW

Bereavement Counselor for Aim Hospice

Thank you so much for sharing this information with us Penny. Surely a lot of people feel like this during the holidays, but perhaps now know they are not alone.

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