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Grief in the Holidays
By Jane   
Rated "G" by the Author.
Last edited: Saturday, November 22, 2008
Posted: Saturday, November 22, 2008

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Grief makes holiday celebrations difficult. Some things to think about and tips to get through this holiday season.

Baby Boomers are in for a shock!!! We may think that we are prepared for the sadness that will accompany our parents’ death. In fact we are usually totally unprepared for this life experience. To lose the people in your life that have always been there and know you the best is a life-altering event.


Grief causes physical and emotional pain. Baby Boomers have come to expect instant pain relief in this fast paced society. Unfortunately Baby Boomers will be facing this chapter in their lives in a culture that does not give grief the respect or validation it deserves. Grief is an emotion that our society does not want to discuss. It has become an “off limits” subject in our culture.


The holidays create even more pain to those who are suffering grief from the death of a loved one. It is a painful reminder of those who are no longer in our lives on a daily basis. What should be a festive and happy time does not feel like it for the grief stricken.


Any approaching holiday can cause problems many weeks before the actual day. It is painfully obvious the day (especially if it the first holiday since the death) will not be the same this year as it has been in the past. Often recalling how things were the last holiday you were together is constantly on your mind.


We have inherited the “stiff upper lip” of our parent’s generation and have also been inundated with expressions such as “get on with life” and “closure” and “getting back to normal”. None of these expressions or attitudes helps the grief stricken especially during a holiday season.


There is an enormous amount of pressure to act “normal” during these holiday times. This seems like an insurmountable task at this time. It is exhausting.


Here are some things that can help you get through these difficult situations:

  1. Give yourself permission to feel whatever it is you feel. If journaling or using a support group or special person that  helps – make sure you take advantage of them during holiday times.
  2. Keep up any traditions that the deceased person started and you can continue – it helps you feel you are honouring the deceased.
  3. Also try to establish new traditions that make you and your family feel good about the holiday or include activities you enjoy.
  4. Talk about your loved one with friends and family and encourage them to share favorite stories with you.
  5. Take care of yourself during this stressful time. Anything that makes you feel better should be done. This could be a long walk, massage, listening to music and getting enough sleep. 

Holidays are a difficult time but there are ways to get through them without hiding from the pain. Even though the holiday may not be as celebratory as last year, the day passes and you do survive!!!



Jane Galbraith, BScN, R.N., is the author of “Baby Boomers Face Grief – Survival andRecovery”. Her work in the community health field included dealing with palliative clients and their bereaved families and has also assisted facilitating grief support groups. She speaks to many organizations about the subject.


Her book is available through the author directly at or More information about the book can be found at .


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