Surviving the Holidays Without Your Loved One

The period of mourning is sad enough but when holiday season hits, it can be harder to cope. Holidays are laced with memories; it’s not just the actual day that is difficult but, it’s the days and weeks leading up to the holiday that are filled with reminders in the foods, smells, music, store displays and activities. You really can’t avoid it. Even the change in seasons heralds the holidays whether it’s the trees shedding their vibrant leaves or that certain feel in the air when you know it’s going to snow.

Is there anything you can do to make this time of year easier?

One family chose not to host the holiday dinner because the preparations and meal itself were just too painful to contemplate. Instead, they asked another relative to host. They planned to spend the day by themselves and then share the holiday meal.

Another family handled the holidays entirely differently. They planned a very social long weekend and invited friends and family members to celebrate. They spent weeks planning, cooking, and preparing all their favorite foods and then filled the house with festive flowers and table settings. They surrounded themselves with loved ones and kept themselves so busy so they made it through the holiday weekend.

One widow surprised her children by choosing to go away by herself. She stayed at a hotel with a spa and found therapeutic massage and time alone helped her to process her loss.

There is no right or wrong way to handle the holidays after a family member or loved one has died. So how will you navigate the holiday season?  

  1. Identify what you love about the holiday season and what you can’t miss and then do it whether it is decorating, baking or cooking.
  2. If you love baking but have no family to share it with, go ahead and bake. Deliver the goodies to the kind people in our life, such as the postal worker, hairstylist, trash collectors, even your physician or dental offices.
  3. Schedule a volunteer activity; nothing feels better than helping someone in need.
  4. If you can’t take the holiday music in the stores and malls, then do your shopping online.
  5. When you just crave solace draw the curtains, read an engrossing book, and make a pot of hearty soup.
  6. Just keep in mind that the holidays are just a period of time, and this too shall pass.


Robbie Miller Kaplan is an author who writes from a unique perspective as a mother who has lost two children. She has written How to Say It When You Don't Know What to Say, a guide to help readers communicate effectively when those they care about experience loss, now at a reduced price for e-books for "Illness & Death," "Suicide," "Miscarriage," "Death of a Child," "Death of a Stillborn or Newborn Baby," "Pet Loss," "Caregiver Responsibilities," "Divorce" and "Job Loss." All titles are in Amazon's Kindle Store.

Image courtesy of the author.

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