Holidays and Grief: You Need a Plan

When faced with the upcoming holidays and already rapid heartbeat and fading strength, the last thing a bereaved parent wants to hear is , “Make a plan”.

But the truth is, if you don’t it will be so. much. worse.  

fail to plan plan to fail

No one can tell YOU what the plan should be.  Each family is unique.  Each year brings different challenges-declining health, moves, children or grandchildren born and a dozen other variables that must be accounted for THIS year versus years past.

This will be our fourth set of holidays without Dominic and the one thing that has been, and continues to be, important is communication.  I need to communicate early enough and plainly enough to extended family what I and my immediate family can bear for this year.  If I don’t, there will be misunderstandings and hurt feelings all around. 

This year will be different than last year. 

That’s something surprising to me this side of child loss, nothing seems “fixed”.  No new tradition can take the place of the traditions we embraced before Dominic ran ahead to heaven.  So every year I find myself feeling my way in the dark.

one bulb missingAnother important note:  Even though my loss is great I am not the only one whose heart should be honored this time of year.  I may not be able to participate in everything others want to do, but I can decline gracefully and encourage them to celebrate well without fear I’m upset about it.

If this is your very first holiday season after loss, I highly recommend keeping things low-key, whatever that looks like for you. 

Some families find that keeping tradition is helpful.  Some find it unbearably painful.  Some want to run away from familiar places and others want to wrap their hearts in shared memories.

Over the next few days I will be reposting past articles about how to survive the holidays after loss.  I hope they cast a little light on this hard topic.  Take what helps and leave the rest. 

It’s your call. 

Your life. 

Your heart. 

No one else gets to judge how you choose to do (or not do) the holidays. 

its ok to not feel like celebrating christmas


Author: Melanie

I am a shepherd, wife and mother of four amazing children, three that walk the earth with me and one who lives with Jesus. This is a record of my grief journey and a look into the life I didn't choose. If you are interested in joining a community of bereaved parents leaning on the promises of God in Christ, please like the public Facebook page, "Heartache and Hope: Life After Losing a Child" and join the conversation.

5 thoughts on “Holidays and Grief: You Need a Plan”

  1. I know it’s not the same, but I had a miscarriage the day before my 30th birthday. It was really hard for me. I haven’t wanted to celebrate my birthday since but I don’t have a choice. I keep sitting down to write to you and get distracted but I wanted to thank you for your blog. I have learned a lot about how to talk to people who have lost someone close to them.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Miscarriages are hard. I’m so very sorry. I can absolutely understand how that would make your birthday a sad day instead of a happy one. Thank you for encouraging me. May you feel the Father’s loving arms around you and may He overwhelm your heart with His grace and mercy. ❤


  2. That is especially hard. I am so, so sorry. I understand the sense of panic-this is my fourth set of holidays and Dom left us in the spring, but it still makes me feel panicky. My heart hurts for you. May the Lord overwhelm you with His love, grace and mercy. ❤


  3. I am horrified as the holidays begin, I call myself trying to make plans as I have other children and family but the truth is I’m feeling like a constant panic attack is ahead. I just don’t know how I’ll be feeling as the days draw closer. This Christmas Morning will mark my first year without my son 😭. I don’t know if I know how to think of Christmas anymore. Now when I refer to my sons passing I refer to Christmas

    Liked by 1 person

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