Holiday Memories: Dealing with Loss at a Time of Joy | Mercy Cancer Center

Holiday Memories: Dealing with Loss at a Time of Joy

Posted on: November 30, 2016

Everyone anticipates the holiday season differently. Some may be excited for the gathering of family and friends, while others may find the holiday season emotionally challenging. This is especially true if you’ve lost someone close to you. The absence of your loved one can be overwhelming.

Dealing with memories and grief at the holidays

During the holidays, grief from loss may feel like a fresh wound, even if it has been a long time since the person passed away. Grief is a normal part of loss, and everyone grieves in their own way. There is no right or wrong way to grieve. No one can tell you how you should be feeling. Do not feel ashamed or embarrassed to express feelings about your loved one, especially with those who share your loss. Feel free to cry, talk, or even laugh as you share past stories with family and friends.

Everyone handles loss in their own way. The following can help you get through the holidays which include keeping certain traditions alive, or starting new traditions ones.

  • It’s important to talk with family or friends who are supportive and willing to listen. If you do not feel comfortable speaking with anyone close, a therapist or counselor can make a difference in the bereavement process. 
  • Many people do want to be supportive but often do not know what to say or do. So, just simply talking about your thoughts, feelings, or memories can help stimulate assistance from those who don’t know how to help you. 
  • You may use distractions such as watching movies, reading books, or working on your favorite craft project. You may also feel like doing something completely different or may not be able to focus especially if your loss is fresh. Quietly meditating or listening to music can offer peace or a sense of comfort.
  • There is no written prescription for how you need to handle holidays. Generally, if you make your thoughts and wishes known, your family members and friends will be supportive of your choices.
  • The holiday season can be stressful anyway but even more so after a loss. It can help to make a game plan ahead of time and communicate your needs to those special people in your life who will support you.

Whether your loss is recent or long past, your grief is real and personal. If you need support, please feel free to contact Mercy Cancer Navigators, who can listen, answer questions, and refer you to a counselor at your request who has experience dealing with the unique pain that a loss can inflict. Mercy Pastoral Care also may provide comforting support during your time of need regardless of your religious beliefs or background.

In a season that can embody both joy and sadness, remember your own health and well-being. Don’t be afraid to lean on others for support and communicate your needs. You may be surprised how much help you are to those around you who are often willing to help but just don’t know exactly what to do. 

Mercy Cancer Center wishes you all a happy and healthy holiday season!

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