Getting Through the Holidays When You’ve Lost A Loved One


Did you know that Bereavement, Grief, or Mourning; Can grab you, hook you with a strong line and become a heavy sinker. Bereavement is the state of having lost a significant other to death.

Grief is the personal response to the loss. Mourning is the public expression of that loss.


When you have lost a loved one, the holiday season can be a painful reminder of the terrible loss you are feeling—- instead of bringing warmth, love and excitement. The first few years are perhaps the most difficult, but even years later, the holidays may lack the joy they once had for you.


There are steps you can take, however, to help give the holidays a new meaning. The holidays can become a time of peace and reflection, a time to cherish the gift your loved one has been – and continues to be – in the life of your family. Here are a few ideas that may help you begin the journey.


  • Be patient and realistic. Sometimes our own high expectations of the holidays make the pain and frustration more acute. We have a mental picture of how things ought to be. Often, however, those expectations are based more on fantasy than reality. Remember that you are grieving. Be kind and gentle with yourself, and realistic about what you expect. Leave the word ought out of the holiday season this year. When you are grieving, it is difficult to concentrate, so make lists. Prioritize things. Decide what is important to you this holiday season and scratch the rest off the list this year. You can always add things back in years to come.
  • Listen to your heart and acknowledge your limits. Spend some quiet time before the rush of the holidays listening to your heart. Become aware of your needs and express them to family members and friends with whom you plan to spend the holidays. Encourage others to share their feelings, too, so that everyone affected by the death of your loved one has an opportunity to express his or her wishes about holiday plans. Remember that it is O.K. to say no. You do not to accept every invitation or fulfill every responsibility that comes your way this holiday.
  • Adapt cherished traditions. When loss and grief overwhelm us at the holidays, we are sometimes tempted to scrap the whole thing, to do absolutely nothing. But you can keep traditions alive in ways that make sense given the new reality of your life. If you are alone this year as a result of your loss, find a way to share a part of the holidays with others. Visit a soup kitchen or stop by a nursing home.
  • Allow the tears to come, but look for joy amidst the pain. As you unpack and sift through holiday decorations, understand that along with the warm, loving memories, you will be unpacking some headaches as well. Don’t deny yourself the gift of healing tears. Lay in a supply of tissues and don’t be surprised if you find tears coming when you least expect them.
  • Focus on the spiritual dimension of the holidays. When you are ready, and if feels right, one way to refashion the holidays is to focus on the underlying religious meaning. Let your grief lead you to a deeper appreciation for the time-honored traditions of the holiday season, traditions that bring home the meaning of God’s promise of everlasting love and life.


Right now, you may feel like the scattered pieces of a broken puzzle. Honor that feeling, but also take comfort in knowing that the pieces of the puzzle can be reshuffled, rearranged, and pieced together to form a new picture. Temper your expectations with compassion and gentleness. You will heal, but only as you allow yourself to experience the full range of emotions on your journey through grief. May love be what you remember the most this holiday season.   Excerpts from CareNotes, One Caring Place.


You may require some support through your grieving during the holiday season. Within New Dimension Worship Center, Elder Karmin Jenkins is heading our Grief Care Ministry. Elder Jenkin’s contact information is:
Our Grief Care Ministry is currently planned for telephonic contact on the 4th Thursday of each month using our Not On Our Watch (NOOW) Prayer call line @ 712-775-7035 access code 347845#.


Also, look for support in your community and reach out.  The Whole Heart Center, under the leadership of Denise Rollins, offers many low cost and no cost services:

  • One-one-One Coaching
  • I.F.E. Groups, Retreats, Experiences
  • Grief Support Groups
Contact information: Phone – 866.393.5847; E-mail –; website –; Facebook: @the wholeheartcenter.


Additionally, we have attached a link to 64 Tips for Coping with Grief at the Holidays. Click on the following link:


Remember: You don’t have to go through your journey of grief alone! We are here for you and there are other available resources for support.