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3 tips to navigate grief during the holidays

By Chaplain Jenny Schroedel, Optage Hospice
Originally published in the December edition of “Springs of Living Water,” the e-newsletter of Optage Hospice.

In the 1965 A Charlie Brown Christmas, Charlie Brown captured something that frequently comes up at grief groups during this time of the year. Turning to his friend Linus, he said, “I think there must be something wrong with me, Linus. Christmas is coming but I’m not happy. I don’t feel the way I am supposed to feel.”

If you have recently experienced a loss or are facing the challenges of the caregiving journey, you might be able to relate. You might want to be able to celebrate with others, but you just might not be feeling it. While others rush out to buy gifts and spread holiday cheer, you may be just trying to put one foot in front of the other.

Here are some suggestions to help ease the holidays:

Make a plan (keep it simple). Give yourself permission to break from certain traditions if they bring up too much pain. You may need a smaller, quieter holiday or more time alone to rest. It is okay to say no to things that feel like too much or to adjust plans as needed.

Allow yourself “staring time.” While the natural world grows quiet in December, humans enter into a frenzy of activity. Take your cues from nature and slow down if needed. You can take time to watch the snow fall or reflect on a photo and memories of your loved one.

Pay it forward. One of the hardest parts of grief is that all that love feels like it has nowhere to go. But you can keep that love going by sending a memorial donation in your loved one’s name or by making a gift of something connected with them (a photo or something they wrote or wore).

As we head into the holidays, know that you are not alone. Whether you are a caregiver or are experiencing fresh grief, Optage Hospice offers opportunities for education, connection and support via Zoom.

Upcoming Grief Groups (virtual via Zoom)

Caregiver Connections: Second Wednesday, monthly 7–8 PM
Navigating the Holidays: December 8, 7–8 PM

Grief Support

Grief & The Holidays: December 15, 7–8 PM
Grief Explorations (six weeks): Tuesdays, January 11–February 15, 1 PM

We invite you to pre-register by emailing [email protected].

Sign up for “Springs of Living Water,” delivered to your email inbox monthly.

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