The Holidays and Grief

Dec 16, 2021 | Megan Roessler M. Ed. | @meganroessler

Article contributed by Mayo Clinic staff, Gina Lange

For most of us the thought of the holidays approaching brings great joy and excitement.  We are often filled with feelings of love, gratitude, and generosity.  Decorations are being hung, presents are being bought, and grocery lists are being made for family and friend gatherings.  Commonly, this is also a time to reflect on the past year and make resolutions for the upcoming year.

What if this year is different?  It may be different due to our current COVID pandemic; however, it also may be different due to the dreaded word cancer.  Perhaps you personally are dealing with a cancer diagnosis, you are a caregiver for a loved one dealing with cancer, or you have lost someone to cancer.  These are all very important reasons this holiday season may be affecting you differently.  There are a variety of emotions you may be feeling including:

  • Grief
  • Sadness
  • Anxiety
  • Fear
  • Exhaustion

Cancer takes its toll on each of us differently.  It’s been 16 years since I lost my mother and 8 since I lost my father to cancer and each holiday there is still a sense of loss.  Yes, over the years, the rawness becomes more tolerable.  There are good days and bad days.  So, you may be asking, how does one cope?  How do I find the energy when chemo has wiped away every bit of energy I have?  How do I pull myself together when I am trying to be strong for my loved one when they are struggling with side effects from treatment?  How do I get through this first Holiday without my loved one?  How do I change my focus to not be depressed when it’s been years since I lost my loved one?  The emotional stress is sometimes unbearable.  I’m here to tell you that you are not alone.  Regardless of what stage you are in with your cancer journey, we are here to help.  We have resources at the Cancer Education Center that can help get you through these tough days, months or maybe even years.  We have reading materials, classes, webinars, and even online cancer groups where you can chat with other individuals that may be experiencing the same feelings.  This can be done in the comfort of your own home to accommodate busy schedules.  We are here to help.

We want to help be a guiding light through your journey.  Below are a few of the resources you may find helpful.

The first is a book written by James E. Miller titled “How Will I Get Through The Holidays?”  You can find a copy in our Cancer Education Center located in the lobby level of the Gonda Building on our Rochester Campus or here is a link to purchase online:  How Will I Get Through The Holidays?

Information for Caregivers: Taking Care of Yourself

I’m going to leave you with a quote that I hold true.

Grief is like the ocean: it comes on in waves, ebbing and flowing; Sometimes the water is calm, and sometimes it is overwhelming…all we can do is learn to swim” Vicki Harrison

Interested in more newsfeed posts like this? Go to the Cancer Education blog.

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