HANDLING HOLIDAY GRIEF #3: How to Do the Holidays WITH Your Loved One

The Holidays are here. And they hurt.

This is my third article on Holiday Grief. In Holiday Grief#1: Holidays? Yeah, Right! we talked about how this time of year is hard enough, but grief can make it nearly impossible.

In Holiday Grief #2: Why Holidays are Hard and What You Can Do about It, we talked about the unrealistic expectations that come with this time of year. We must remember that WE get to choose what we do, when, how, and with whom. As we take ourselves seriously, we end up grieving better and honoring our loved one more.

Today we’re going to talk about how to include our loved one in the holidays. To watch this content on video, 

BEATING HOLIDAY GRIEF #3: Doing the Holidays WITH Your Loved One from Gary Roe - Author, Speaker on Vimeo.


Our world tells us we have to move on. I’m sorry. I can’t do that if it means moving on without my loved one. But what if I could actually move on with them, but in a new way?

Holidays, more than any other time of year, remind us of our losses. We’re keenly aware of who’s missing. Seemingly everything reminds us of them. We bump into a memory with every step.

We have holiday traditions. Whatever it is – special meals, decorating, house lights, the tree, stockings, presents, worship, etc. – we can’t imagine it without our loved one. Nothing is the same. We wonder how we’re going to celebrate anything at all.

Here’s one option: meet the holidays head on. Instead of letting the holidays use you, use them to honor your loved one and love those around you.


Be proactive. Plan specific ways to include and celebrate the one who passed. Here a few ideas:

  • Set up an empty chair honoring your loved one at the table
  • Put a candle in a prominent place and light it in remembrance
  • Have everyone bring a card that reminds them of the person. At an appropriate time, have each of them share their card with the group. 
  • Put a present with their name on it under the tree. When you open gifts, pass the present around and have each person share a memory.

You know your loved one. You know your traditions. Be creative.

Yes, these times will most likely be emotional. That’s good. You’re giving yourself and others a chance to grieve in a healthy way. In fact, if you don’t celebrate your loved one somehow, chances are everyone’s grief will leak out anyway, but in less desirable ways.

If we’re willing, new traditions can be born this year – traditions that honor our loved ones and help us move on with them, in a new way. They’ll always be a part of us. It would be a shame not to include them and give them a prominent place in our holidays.

I have one more article on Holiday Grief to share with you, so stay tuned. Next time we’ll be talking about a secret you can use to make these holidays a healing experience. It could make all the difference.

Your life has changed forever. These holidays might be difficult, but they can still be good.


About the Author

Gary Roe is an author, speaker, and chaplain with Hospice Brazos Valley. He is the author of the award-winning bestsellers Shattered: Surviving the Loss of a Child, Please Be Patient, I'm Grieving, HEARTBROKEN: Healing from the Loss of a Spouse, and Surviving the Holidays without You and the co-author (with New York Times Bestseller Cecil Murphey) of Saying Goodbye: Facing the Loss of a Loved One. Visit him at www.garyroe.com.

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