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Dealing With Grief at Christmas – 5 Tips From a Baby Boomer

These five tips for dealing with grief over the Christmas holidays are from Jane Galbraith, author of Baby Boomers Face Grief: Survival and Recovery.

This author and nurse knows firsthand what it’s like to grieve during Christmas. One of the first things she encourages people to do is share love with the people who are with you today, because…

“The bitterest tears shed over graves are for words left unsaid and deeds left undone,” said Harriett Beecher Stowe.

If you love someone, dear readers, then tell them! If you appreciate, value, cherish someone – share how you feel. Then when you have to deal with death, your grieving may be a little lighter.

For more advice from Galbraith about baby boomers and grief, read Baby Boomers Face Grief: Survival and Recovery.

And, here are her tips for grieving over the holidays.

Dealing With Grief at Christmas – 5 Tips From a Baby Boomer

Guest Post – Jane Galbraith

The Christmas holidays create even more pain to those who are suffering grief from the loss 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.

Baby boomers 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 the Christmas holiday season. There is an enormous amount of pressure to act “normal” during these holiday times. This seems like an insurmountable task if you’re grieving during the holidays. It’s exhausting.

5 Deal With the Loss of a Loved One at Christmas

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 your loved one started, and that you can continue. This will help you honor your lost loved one. If you’re grieving the loss of your spouse, learn how to meet new friends for widows.

3. Try to establish new traditions if you’re grieving during the holidays, which make you and your family feel good about the holiday. Include new activities that everyone enjoys.

4. Talk about your loved one with friends and family and encourage them to share favorite stories with you.

5. Take care of yourself when you’re dealing with grief at Christmas. Anything that helps you with healing after loss should be done, such as a long walk, massage, listening to music and getting enough sleep.

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

For more tips, read Starting Over in Your 60s – After Your Husband Dies.

If you have any thoughts on grieving over the holiday season, please comment below…

Jane Galbraith, BScN, R.N., is the author of Baby Boomers Face Grief – Survival and Recovery. 

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12 thoughts on “Dealing With Grief at Christmas – 5 Tips From a Baby Boomer”

  1. I lost my Grandma this year. She was a huge part of my life and I miss her horribly. The problem is I have only spent one Christmas since I was three without my Grandma. We always have a big family get together Christmas Eve however Christmas Day is always me and my immediate family. I am trying to find something else to do besides what we normally do. I live in MI so any ideas would help.

  2. Does anyone have a great Christmas gift idea for a dear friend of mine who lost his 48 year old wife in April? This will be his first Christmas without her and he’s missing her dearly. Maybe a photo frame to hang on the tree?

  3. Really great tips to survive the holidays. They can be stressful even without suffering a major loss, but with your tips they can definitely be manageable.

  4. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Dear Bonnie,

    I’m so sorry to hear of your loss. It really is so sad when life goes on, and we’re stuck coping with grief because we lost someone we love! I remember going through so much mourning when my grandma died, especially at Thanksgiving and Christmas…..but I know that doesn’t compare to losing a husband or wife. Those aren’t happy days.

    Thank you for sharing your story here, and I wish you all the best as you forge ahead without your husband. And, I’m glad you experienced true love and joy! Many people can’t say the same thing…


  5. My beloved husdband died on Christmas eve 2009, after loosing a fight with cancer for 14 months. I met him late in life & he was the love of my life. He was strong, tanned, funny, witty, protective & built like Mighty Mouse. When he went into the hospital, he only lived 4 days, My light has gone out. all my friends have almost stopped calling, no one seems to want to hear what I am going through. I am angry their life is going on when mine has been torn apart
    I try to stay busy but the tears are not far off. I reach for him & his side of the bed is empty, I can’t sleep in there, I am in a guest room. I had 5 years of laughter with him & feel sorry for couples who have settled instead of holding out for the real thing. The thing that keeps me going is knowing it was his time & my time will come when God decides, until then I will try to live, & wait for the day we will be together again, this time forever

  6. To Rochelle, I too lost the love of my life after a one year battle with cancer. We worked together side by side as well. It will be 2 years on Jan. 12, 2010. I cried everyday for 6 months. At times, I wished I would die. I had never experienced such deep emotional pain – at times, I was also physically ill. Then, one day something happened to me (I auditioned for a local community theater production of Oklahoma, and got a part!)and I decided to STOP. From that day forward I began to feel better. I sang and danced my way through the next 3 months, and came out at the end a much healed person. I think that this is the way it is – you get to a point where you just can’t possibly cry anymore and you start to move forward – reinventing yourself. For me it was theater, for you it may be something else. It will happen to you – you will feel better one day soon. Your husband is always right there with you – all you have to do is imagine him, and he is there…

  7. Laurie Pawlik-Kienlen

    Yikes, Rochelle, I don’t know how I missed your comment! Usually I respond within 2 days, and I remember reading yours but could’ve sworn I answered you. Please accept my apologies — you are NOT alone here! I’m so glad Ann responded to you with such good advice.

    My heart goes out to you; I can’t imagine losing my husband. We’re not running a business together or joined at the hip like you were, but I would be so sad just the same.

    One thing I suggest is not spending too much time alone over Thanksgiving holiday. I understand that coping with grief is an individual process and you want to be alone as you deal with your loss….but I just hope you spend some time with others. I suggest volunteering at a homeless shelter for a few hours, or inviting a friend or family member over for a visit.

    Another thing is to put all your energy into something healthy. You seem like a vibrant, enthusiastic, passionate woman who has energy to spare — can you direct your emotions and energies into something like starting a new business, rebuilding your old business, helping other women deal with their grief, or doing something that you love? Maybe it’s too soon for stuff like that, but I encourage you to be creative as you think about this new stage of your life.

    Anyway, I’ll be here if you do comment again…I won’t let you slip through the cracks again!

    Warm hugs,

  8. Thank you Ann, I appreciate your “words of wisdom”, which I do know they are…my husband’s Birthday would’ve been the 29th of this month, on TOP of the Holidays, but I still cry every day, many times a day, and I still feel the loss TREMENDOUSLY, and do NOT want to be here. My room-mate will be gone (I’m sending him to his parents’ for Thanksgiving and he’ll be gone until the 28th, at least-he’s leaving tomorrow) so I can mourn ALONE. Though I don’t feel “safe” yet, I can’t seem to find anything free around me, and I don’t have a vehicle. Maybe I will join my sweet Rick, my “Romeo”, because of natural causes…you never know, and I can only hope. I thank you for your e-mail; it meant a lot to me. If you can, continue to write to me…the “Net” is my only form of really talking to anyone, and you seem so nice. Thanks again, and actually I hope NOT to be here again, but life sucks, and I will probably be here no matter what anyhow.

  9. This is for Rochelle Harris, in response to her comment above. Please Rochelle – NOW, not later, reach out to a professional who can help you. Do this immediately. There IS hope and although it is hard to see now, you can live a productive life that honors the memory of your dear “Romeo” as well as allows you to have some peace and even, after some time, joy. Grief is an enormous, visceral, physical emotion and it can be all-comsuming, especially right after the loss. There are a number of organizations that offer competent, free, grief support. (I know – I am the Bereavement Coordinator at a hospice and never turn anyone away.) Many hospices, funeral homes, and churches have free or minimal cost grief counseling that is non-denominational and flexible in terms of time. You do not need to have been a patient or have used the services of the funeral home or attend the church. Start by calling your local hospice or funeral home. I urge you to do this today. The holidays will be a rough spot. You are NOT alone in this, nor are you odd or crazy for feeling what you described. Bless you and I will be thinking of you.

  10. I recently lost my “Romeo”, and I am his “Juliet”…you see, we talked about death a LOT, and knew what each other wanted, as well as how the other felt about it. But it was still unexpected; happened while I and our room-mate were trying to save his life, right here in our living room! And I can’t seem to recover. I just want to be with HIM, I don’t care WHERE it is, even if it’s in HELL, I don’t care!! I cannot seem to get along alright without him; I just want to LEAVE this earth, and be with HIM. I will ALWAYS be a widow…I don’t care whether “fate” has something else in store for me, I will “thwart” it no MATTER WHAT! My husband & I were “joined at the hip”; we were together 24/7, running a business out of our home…how many people do you know that could just withstand THAT?! We could, & we DID, and we overcame all odds. NOW, what do I DO?? SOMEONE, PLEASE HELP ME!! I have NO MONEY. Thank you.
    Rochelle Harris

  11. Thanks for the helpful information. It’s difficult to be without your loved ones during the holidays. These tips offer ways to honor those who have departed, but move forward.

    I write a boomer consumer blog called The Survive and Thrive Boomer Guide, just click my name to get there.


  12. These tips are right on! The first holidays after the death of a loved one are the hardest, and it’s important to be able to share your emotions and simply allow yourself to feel melancholy. It’s part of “the process” and you must do whatever you can do to help yourself move forward. We all deal with grief in our own way, so if your formula doesn’t match that of someone else, don’t worry about it.

    In talking to people before writing my soon to be released “tween” novel, Grumble Bluff, I realized that the people who seemed to be healing in a healthy way almost all spoke of one common factor in that process… the close presence of at least one true friend. Oh, the awesome power of friendship.

    Karen Bessey Pease, author of juvenile fiction.