Coverage Areas:  National |  South Carolina |  Aiken |  Beaufort |  Charleston |  Columbia |  Greenville |  Myrtle Beach |  Rock Hill

How to navigate a season of joy while experiencing grief

Christmas cheer may be everywhere this time of year, but for those who are grieving the loss of a loved one, the season can be an emotional roller coaster.

The Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors, a national nonprofit organization offering comfort and care to families of fallen military troops, offers the following tips:

Make plans. Plan to spend your days where you feel nurtured, emotionally safe and comfortable. Having a plan will help you navigate the season and its activities. But remember to plan for flexibility, as you may not know how your emotions will roll, especially if it is your first or second holiday season after the death of a loved one.

Find sustenance for the soul. Your church may offer services, resources and support networks for the bereaved. You may want to look for a support group for people who are grieving and have suffered a similar loss.

Don’t be afraid to change it up. Some traditions may be a comfort, while others can cause pain. Consider which to keep and which to forego this year. Do not feel like you have to do something just because you have always done it that way.

Include your lost loved one in giftgiving. Give a gift on behalf of your loved one to someone else. Consider making a donation to a charity in their memory.

Create a tribute. Light a candle at church or at home, display a favorite photograph, or consider writing a letter to your loved one about your special holiday memories together.

Be gentle with yourself. Realize that familiar traditions, sights, smells and even tastes, may be comforting, or may jolt your emotions. This is the time of year when you need to be careful and listen to yourself.

Attend functions if you can. Consider attending Christmas parties and events, especially if you’ll be able to spend time with supportive family members and friends. Make an escape plan in case it is more than you can handle. If you think a gathering might be more than you can bear, it is OK to stay home.

Don’t pretend you haven’t experienced a loss. Imagining that nothing has happened does not make the pain of losing a loved one go away, nor does it make the holidays easier to endure. Even though memories may be painful, they also can be comforting. It is OK to talk with others about what you have lost and what the season means to you.

Pay attention to your health. Sleeping is often difficult for people who have experienced a recent loss. Make sure you get regular rest and drink lots of water. Do not over-indulge in sweets or alcohol. If you feel overwhelmed, talk with your medical care provider.

Take stock of both joy and sadness. Give yourself permission to feel joy as well as sadness. Don’t feel like you have to act a certain way because of your loss, or because it is the holidays.

Just be yourself. Express your feelings. Bottling up your feelings may add to distress, not lessen it. Let it out — write a poem, talk with a supportive friend, create a painting, or pen a journal entry.

Share the season with someone else. Many lonely people might like to experience the holidays with someone else. Consider volunteering with a local charity or soup kitchen, invite a neighbor for a special meal or include others in your seasonal activities.

  • Diocesan Events Calendar
    View All Events
    Aug 1910:00 am Junta de Vicaria (Columbia)
    From the Calendar of Pastoral Juvenil
    10:00 am Gr. 6-8 Orientation
    From the Calendar of St. Mary School Greenville
    5:00 pm Bishop Guglielmone to celebrate Mass - White Oak Conference Center for CORE Training
    From the Calendar of Bishop's Office
    Aug 20 PTO Donuts & Coffee
    From the Calendar of St. Mary School Greenville
    5:00 pm Spirit Night with the Columbia Fireflies
    From the Calendar of St. Joseph School Columbia
    Aug 21 Half day of classes for all students
    From the Calendar of Bishop England Charleston
    First Day of School for K4 8th Grade
    From the Calendar of St. Mary School Greenville
    First Day of School
    From the Calendar of St. Paul the Apostle School Spartanburg
    Teacher Workday; No school; solar eclipse
    From the Calendar of St. John School North Charleston
    First Day of School
    From the Calendar of St. Joseph School Columbia
    First Day of Class
    From the Calendar of St. John Neumann School Columbia
    Teacher Workday; No school; Solar Eclipse
    From the Calendar of Charleston Catholic School
    First Day of School New student orientation
    From the Calendar of St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Carolina Forest
    Teacher Orientation Week
    From the Calendar of St. Gregory the Great School
    First Day Orientation for Grades 11 and 12
    From the Calendar of Cardinal Newman School
    1st Day of School- Noon Dismissal
    From the Calendar of St. Anthony School Florence
    First Day of School
    From the Calendar of St. Andrew School Myrtle Beach
    days-Teacher in-service
    From the Calendar of Holy Trinity North Myrtle Beach
    First day of School
    From the Calendar of Our Lady of the Rosary Greenville
    Boo-Hoo Parent drop-off
    From the Calendar of Our Lady of the Rosary Greenville