Walking Through Mourning During the Holidays

Dr. Craig von BuseckBy Dr. Craig von Buseck5 Minutes

When someone you love dies, your whole world changes. This can be especially painful during the holidays. Instead of celebrating the season, you may experience all kinds of difficult emotions. It may feel like the pain and sadness you’re experiencing will never end. But these emotions are all part of the grieving process, and these are normal reactions to significant loss.

Someone once said grief is the price we pay for having loved another. Grief is a natural human response to loss. It’s the emotional suffering we feel when something or someone we love is taken from our lives. The more significant the loss, the more intense the grief will be. It’s important to understand that everyone grieves when a loved one dies, or a marriage ends, or a close relationship is severed – and that everyone grieves in different ways.

That grief can be multiplied during the holidays as we experience familiar traditions by ourselves. While there is no right or wrong way to grieve, there are healthy ways to cope with the pain that you experience.  During this holiday season, here are some practical things you can do to help ease your way through the grieving process.

Accept the Reality of Death and Loss 

  • It’s important that we accept the reality of our loss—our loved one has really died; the divorce has really happened; the relationship is really over.
  • Feelings of grief and acceptance will come in various waves at various times. It is natural for you to have these feelings, so don’t feel guilty.
  • Do not try to shorten the grieving process. Mourning the loss of a loved one takes time. The amount of time it takes for someone to grieve is different for every person. Don’t allow someone to ‘guilt’ you into speeding through the grief process.

Seek Friends and Counselors

  • Surround yourself with friends and family. Communicate your needs to them. If you haven’t gone through a major loss it may be difficult to understand the needs of the grieving one.
  • Trying to avoid the grieving process only delays and complicates reactions to the loss. We must allow ourselves to experience and express our feelings as we part from loved ones.
  • Some people try to escape or mask their grief by “standing strong,” “sucking it up,” “staying busy,” or “moving on.” But avoiding these emotions only extends and confuses the grieving process.
  • It’s important to celebrate the good times and joyful memories of your loved one. But don’t ignore the difficult times and the challenges of your relationship. Honor those things that were honorable, and remember the real person for who they were.

Hold on to the Memories while Building a New Life

  • Come up with a plan to establish new daily routines to complete necessary tasks you may have not done before.
  • At first you may need to find help with practical daily affairs. But as you become adept at your “new normal” you will likely find a great sense of satisfaction.
  • It’s important to take gradual, but tangible steps toward a new life after the loss of a loved one. This emotional separation from the past creates new energy to move forward with a fruitful and peaceful future.
  • This emotional separation in no way dishonors the memory of the lost loved one, and it doesn’t mean that you love him or her any less.
  • This process allows you as the survivor to re-engage with life without your loved one in a positive way that opens the door for healing and new opportunities.

By deciding to take this step toward emotional healing, you are recognizing that there are other people and things to love in life. As you move forward, in time you will discover that you are capable of loving again.

While you may never completely get over the loss of a loved one, it’s also helpful to know that the pain of your grief will diminish with time. God is faithful to bring healing and peace as you call out to Him during the holiday season. Eventually your sorrow will only rise to the surface from time-to-time – and possibly even melt away into mostly fond memories of the one you love.