Getting Through The Holidays After a Family Loss

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Several months ago I published an article on grieving – no, I have not lost anyone very close to me this year. 

I am, however, aware that many of you have lost a close member of your family.  A few years ago I worked at an apartment for seniors for nearly three years.  Christmas was always an awkward time at the complex.  Individuals rejoiced over family reunions and special celebrations.  At the same time they grieved over loved ones who they had lost.

I came across the following article called “Getting Through the Holidays” in one of my files and want to pass it along. 


What to do when you’ve lost a family member:

We must realize that grieving persons have definite limitations: we do not function at normal capacity; therefore, we must re-evaluate our priorities and decide what is really meaningful for ourselves and our families. 

We must decide what we can handle comfortably  – and let these needs be known to family and relatives.

Can you openly talk about the loved one?

Can you handle your previous family responsibilities – like hosting the family?  Do you need someone else to come and help you pull off the holiday preparations?

Do you need a traditional holiday or would your prefer a totally different holiday environment?

Don’t be afraid to make changes": it really can make things less painful

Open your Christmas presents at a different time.

Have your main Christmas meal at a different location or on a different day.

Attend some other Christmas Eve service – away from your normal church.

Invite new guests who you want to reach out to in your own time of hurting.

Our greatest comfort may come in doing something for others; some persons feel they can acknowledge their loss more meaningfully by:

Giving a gift in the memory of a loved one, donating the money we should have spent on our loved one for a gift, adopting a needy family for the holidays, inviting a guest to share our festivities. 

Finally, it is important to discover a way to honor the family member you miss so much.

Burn a candle to quietly include your absent loved one.

Buy a flower for your home as a living memorial.

For those of you who are balancing celebration and grief, I pray that the God of all comfort reaches out to you this holiday season.  Surely we long for the time of our heavenly reunion in Christ.

Most of the content in this post was based on literature distributed by The Compassionate Friends.


  1. Charlie says

    Craig – I thought of John Dobbs when I read this article — John is a wonderful preacher of the gospel we met in Pascagoula Miss in 2006. He now ministers in West Monroe LA.In June 2008 his son was killed in a tragic accident just days before his high school graduation.

    He reflectson the idea of a Christmas Without at

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