Winter Holidays and Loss

By: Matthew Funeral Home
Monday, December 11, 2023

The holiday season is almost here, and the end of the year is coming up fast. While this is a time of joy for many, it can also be a source of pain. For a lot of people, the holiday season is a reminder of those who are missing from the table. At a time when we should be surrounded by those we love, it can be easy to remember those that are lost. Grief during the holidays can make the warm glow of the holiday season feel cold. 

Grief around the Holidays

Family gatherings can be special occasions, but they can be a major reminder of grief. When celebrating a holiday, it is often impossible to forget those who are no longer at the table. You may not even really feel it until you sit down to eat. Realizing that there is one less voice in the conversation, one less plate around the table. It can be hard to feel cheery on a holiday while you are experiencing grief. That is perfectly fine. Everyone grieves in their own way, and in their own time. Grief is a necessary part of the healing process.

Shorter Days and Grief

Shorter days and colder weather are often a downer. Many people suffer from seasonal depression during the colder months. Couple that with holiday stress, and add your grief on top, and you have a recipe for disaster. Be sure to take time for yourself during the hectic holiday season. 

Sharing Loss with Your Family

If you are feeling the pain of your loss, your family likely is too. It may be hard, but it's often helpful to share memories of your loved one. Try talking about the times you shared with them. Reminisce together. Grieve together. Be together. The holidays are about spending time with your loved ones and making memories, but it's good to share them too.
If you want to talk about your grief, but don’t want to do it with the whole family, that's good too.  Pull a close and trusted family member off to the side to talk. Grief can challenging, especially when you try to do it alone. Sharing how you feel can be cathartic.

Loss Doesn’t Mean an End to Traditions

Traditions, especially holiday ones, can be important to the family. When losing a family member, it can be important to not let the traditions fade away. If the one you lost led a tradition, keep it going. It is important to remember that by moving a tradition to a new family member, you aren’t replacing them, or forgetting them. You are passing the torch, and keeping traditions alive.
Traditions are how we keep the memories of lost loved ones, and our ancestors alive. When you take on the mantle of continuing a family tradition, you are tasked with teaching it to the next generation as well. Whether it's leading the family in a Christmas carol or baking a certain dish every holiday; passing down traditions is a part of human nature. Embrace it, make it your own, and have fun with it.

Passing Down Recipes

Family recipes are often a vital part of any holiday. For many Americans, these recipes may have even been written up in your family’s country of origin. Passing down recipes is one of the most meaningful things you can do to keep family traditions alive. If your loved one made a certain dish for the holidays, keep the tradition alive by following their recipe. Even better, transcribe the recipes digitally, so your family can preserve them for generations.

Honoring Your Loved One on the Holiday

There are a lot of ways to honor those who have passed. Some families might gather to say a prayer for them before your holiday dinner. Others may watch their favorite movie or go through some old photo albums. This is a great way to create new memories and traditions with your family. Honor the legacy of your loved one by adding a new aspect to your holiday traditions that would be special to them.

The author of this post is not a professional therapist or counselor. For assistance in finding a grief counselor that is right for you, there are a number of resources out there. For our Grief Resource Center, written by Dr. Bill Webster, click here.  
For over 50 years, Matthew Funeral Home has been serving the Staten Island community. We can help with almost every aspect of your loved one’s memorial service. Our family is here to serve yours, every step of the way.

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