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Recognizing Loss in the Holiday Season

As we enter the festive season, more celebrations and gatherings will take place throughout our community. Although we recognize it as a season of joy and giving, it can also be a difficult time for those experiencing a journey of grief. Emotions are heightened, and a sense of loss may feel unbearable, as they see the empty seat at the family dinner, or traditions that are no longer, because their loved one is not there to share them. Those who feel overwhelmed may either withdraw from festivities or turn to an unhealthy option to muddle through the season.  

Although there are times when survival mode is helpful, author John Pete (A Different Approach To Holiday Grief, opentohope.com, Nov 21 2023) offers some alternative suggestions to guide us through the season, as we remember, honour, and include the memory of our loved one. 

  1. Create a display with a candle and light it in memory of family member or friend.  
  2. Share memories and stories of them with mutual loved ones. 
  3. Create a special memory book that provides space for guests to write in. 
  4. Include family-favourite recipes.  
  5. Donate to a special cause in memory of your loved one. 
  6. Attend a religious community service or tree lighting which offers peace & hope. 
  7. Start your own annual tradition of how you wish to collectively remember your loved one.

Remember, it is ok to not feel ok, when the season is not what we anticipated, and we experience sadness, or we do not feel able to join in all of the festivities. Take time to remember your loved one and the part of your story they shared. Choosing to include their memory as part of a new tradition, may bring a deeper meaning to the holiday time.  

By: Capt Donna Wilson (Chaplain)