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Healing Through the Holidays

AUTHOR: Brenda Oyler Kim, MSW, LCSW

PHONE: 814-235-2010

AGENCY: Juniper Village at Brookline


Healing Through the Holidays

When you lose someone close to you, your world changes in one swift moment. The feelings of grief you experience can be devastating and frightening. It is important to remember that grief is a normal and natural response we experience when we lose someone we love. How we grieve can be dependent on many factors including our ability to cope, our life experiences, our faith, and the type of loss experienced. Grieving is an individual process. There is no right or wrong way to grieve.

When one first learns of a loss, you may experience symptoms such as numbness, disbelief, and confusion. It is important to remember that it takes time to fully absorb the impact of a major loss. You may also experience symptoms such as anger, fear, and guilt. Depression is also a normal part of the grieving process and is considered a psychological expression of grief. Healing takes time and it is important to be kind and patient with yourself.

The Dual Process Model of Grieving, first created by Margaret Stroebe and Henk Schut, ( suggests the importance of findingbalance between grieving and participating with life particularly around the holidays. It is important to acknowledge your loss and at the same time, stay connected to the important people in your life.

With the coming holidays, it is normally a time to enjoy gatherings with family and friends and a time for celebration. For those that are grieving, this can be the most difficult time of the year. It is important to have a plan for the holidays and create a structure before you attend events. Acknowledge that this year will be different. Keep your plans simple and give yourself permission to make changes to your rituals and traditions. Reach out to others for support including family & friends, clergy, and mental health providers. It is also important to honor your loved one. You may consider lighting a candle, planting a tree, making a memory box, or giving to charity in memory of your loved one. Creating a space at the dinner table for your loved one during the holidays & celebrating their life by sharing stories can be another way to honor them. Lastly, in the midst of your grief, remember there is hope to carry you through this most difficult time. Expect hope, light and love to appear as you move through the grieving process.

If you feel you need additional support, please join us for a one-time support group entitled “Surviving the Holidays Following A Loss”, being held on December 8th, 2022, from 4:00-6:00 PM at Juniper Village @ Brookline Skilled Care, 1950 Cliffside Drive in State College.


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