Grief in Times of Celebration: The Empty Spot

Feelings of grief can come up at unexpected times, and holidays can be especially difficult. There are things all around you that trigger memories. It can help to acknowledge that grief will likely be a guest during the holidays.

The holiday season will be different without your loved one. Here are some tips that I've gathered over time.

– Do only as much as are able or want to do.
– Begin new traditions.
– Plan ahead and incorporate memories of your loved one into the plans.
– Find ways to give to others in need.
– Do something completely different from anything you’ve done before.

Some people find it reassuring to participate in traditional holiday activities, while others find it too difficult. Let’s learn from each other.

What do you find particularly tough as the holiday season approaches? What helps you?

Interested in more discussions like this? Go to the Loss & Grief group.

After my husband passed in March this year, I returned to volunteer service through a local civic club. I put into practice the suggestion to "Do only as much as are able or want to do." Feeling the pressure of doing club activities for the holidays, I bowed out of activities and the club meeting in December. It was too much for me to handle both emotionally and psychologically. At first I felt very guilty because I know we help very deserving people in the community. I've been stressing over how to afford house repairs and pay off medical bills. It became more important for me to take care of my mental health and grief process and learn to say no this time.

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I recently found this image that helped me better understand grief. (image credit to Karen Gibbs https://karengibbs.com.au/growing-with-grief/)

So often people say it will shrink or fade with time. That felt like that was adding loss to loss for me. I didn't want my loved one to shrink or fade, nor did I want our love to lessen in my heart. I much rather envision the love (and therefore grief) staying the same, but that I give myself permission to continue to gather life and love experiences that give me additional cushion and space around the sadness of grief.

Does that make sense?

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@colleenyoung

I recently found this image that helped me better understand grief. (image credit to Karen Gibbs https://karengibbs.com.au/growing-with-grief/)

So often people say it will shrink or fade with time. That felt like that was adding loss to loss for me. I didn't want my loved one to shrink or fade, nor did I want our love to lessen in my heart. I much rather envision the love (and therefore grief) staying the same, but that I give myself permission to continue to gather life and love experiences that give me additional cushion and space around the sadness of grief.

Does that make sense?

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I lost my father when I was young I am now 66. I remember him well. Time puts other thoughts in the fore, but you will always love and not forget.
Isaiah 25:8 is a promise that will happen when soon Jehovah takes back full sovereignty. Satan’s challenge will soon be finished. You can see your loved again.

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@gailsmith

I lost my father when I was young I am now 66. I remember him well. Time puts other thoughts in the fore, but you will always love and not forget.
Isaiah 25:8 is a promise that will happen when soon Jehovah takes back full sovereignty. Satan’s challenge will soon be finished. You can see your loved again.

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Thank you, Gail. What memory do you like to recall about your father at this time of year?

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This is my first Christmas without my husband. Although he had Dementia for years I was a caregiver. Filling that void of always making sure he was well cared for was in my thought daily! For 9 Months my life has been calmer and more peaceful. I have filled my days with helping other and giving to other. This is where I find great joy! Many people I have reached out to are total strangers, like the homeless! I want to make their live a little better, even if it for only a few minutes!
My mantra has been, learn to listen! You can find answers, in being alone and just listening to others! Just take the time.
Merry Christmas to all! Thanks for being here for all of us♥️

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I’m with all of you that recommend helping out someone else…that is the biggest help in my experience. We lived far away from family for 40+ years. We have wonderful memories of family journeys during the holidays and always celebrated with others that we met along the way. Helping others was always key to lifting my spirits. It still does now that I’m retired.
Now I have even more time to invest in the lives of others. Its single best thing I’ve ever done to mitigate sadness in my life.

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@colleenyoung

I recently found this image that helped me better understand grief. (image credit to Karen Gibbs https://karengibbs.com.au/growing-with-grief/)

So often people say it will shrink or fade with time. That felt like that was adding loss to loss for me. I didn't want my loved one to shrink or fade, nor did I want our love to lessen in my heart. I much rather envision the love (and therefore grief) staying the same, but that I give myself permission to continue to gather life and love experiences that give me additional cushion and space around the sadness of grief.

Does that make sense?

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It makes wonderful sense and you have just inspired me. Thank you!

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@colleenyoung

I recently found this image that helped me better understand grief. (image credit to Karen Gibbs https://karengibbs.com.au/growing-with-grief/)

So often people say it will shrink or fade with time. That felt like that was adding loss to loss for me. I didn't want my loved one to shrink or fade, nor did I want our love to lessen in my heart. I much rather envision the love (and therefore grief) staying the same, but that I give myself permission to continue to gather life and love experiences that give me additional cushion and space around the sadness of grief.

Does that make sense?

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@colleenyoung Yes, that makes perfect sense!

The word picture of " I give myself permission to continue to gather life and love experiences that give me additional cushion and space around the sadness of grief" is absolutely amazing!

Thanks, Colleen, for this great Christmas gift to those of us who miss those who have passed on.

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@hopeful33250

@colleenyoung Yes, that makes perfect sense!

The word picture of " I give myself permission to continue to gather life and love experiences that give me additional cushion and space around the sadness of grief" is absolutely amazing!

Thanks, Colleen, for this great Christmas gift to those of us who miss those who have passed on.

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I love this post so much🎄

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@mikaylar

It makes wonderful sense and you have just inspired me. Thank you!

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Mikaylar, may I ask how my post has inspired you? Have you recently lost someone close to you?

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My brother, who I loved dearly, committed suicide. He exploded his house, along with two two other houses rendering at least 8 people homeless, along with condemning 3 more houses. Dealing with this devastation has made this the worst year of my my life. Mikayla

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@mikaylar

My brother, who I loved dearly, committed suicide. He exploded his house, along with two two other houses rendering at least 8 people homeless, along with condemning 3 more houses. Dealing with this devastation has made this the worst year of my my life. Mikayla

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Oh Mika, I can't begin to imagine. Losing someone to suicide challenges our comprehension and leaves us wondering why love can't be enough. I'm sure he felt and knew your love. You may also be interested in sharing with others who understand loss by suicide here:
– Suicide: Finding it hard to lose someone by suicide https://connect.mayoclinic.org/discussion/suicide-1/

Please know that the choices your brother made and the destruction it caused others are not yours to bear. You're hurting too.

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