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Hope for the Holidays

The holidays are stressful for most of us, even when we aren't grieving the death of someone we love. Added on top of the normal holiday stress, grief can make the holidays even more difficult. We hope that some of the resources here will help you through this holiday season.

Helping Yourself Heal During the Holidays

We have partnered with What’s Your Grief, a website devoted to grief education and the open expression and exploration of grief, to provide a special holiday resource for Gift of Life donor families.  This resource includes an extensive online library of articles and free enrolment in:

  • Online course, Managing Grief on Holidays and Special Days
  • Online mini-course, Holiday Remembrance Activities
  • November webinar, Tradition, Ritual, and Continuing Bonds in Grief

These resources can be accessed by clicking here.

This article from Open to Hope also includes some helpful ideas as you move through these challenging weeks ahead. “Navigating Grief Through  the Holidays” 

The Hospice Foundation of America emphasizes the three C’s: Choose, Communicate and Compromise. Learn more by reading “Three C’s for Holiday Grief”.

Alan Wolfelt with the Center for Loss offers some simple but powerful advice on finding ways to cope during the stressful and emotional holiday season.  Learn more here.

“The Empty Chair at the Holiday Table” from PsychCentral.com offers helpful tips for the first holiday season.

Grief.com has an article that covers the winter holidays and beyond including Valentine’s Day and Mother’s and Father’s Days. Learn more by reading “Grief & the Holidays: Dealing with the Pain”

Children, Grief and the Holidays

Many families struggle with how to help the children in their lives understand the loss, grieve and recognize the holiday season.

“Helping Your Child Deal with Death” is an article from KidsHealth.org with some simple and practical advice on helping children cope with the death of someone they love.

And this chart provides information on how children understand death and express grief depending on their age and developmental level.

Bonnie Carroll’s article offers some additional ways to support children as they grieve during the holiday season: “16 Ways to Support Children Coping with Loss”

The Dougy Center, a nationally known center for grieving children and families, created this guide for families to help support children during the holiday season. “Getting through the Holidays”

New Traditions and Suggestions

Below are some articles from websites we often recommend to donor families.

December Holidays
New Years Eve and into the New Year

The holidays will not be the same this year and it might feel strange trying to follow the same traditions this year. Your celebration of the holidays this year might include some new rituals and traditions. Here are some suggestions. It is important to realize that what you decide to do this year, is not what you have to do forever. It is just this one year and next year you can do something different.

Holiday Memorial:  A candle lighting ritual for holidays

Preparation is key when it comes to coping with the holiday season. The more you can prepare and think ahead of time about the upcoming holidays, the easier it could be for you.

5 Ways to Plan for the Holidays after the Death of a Loved One

Take a few minutes and think about what traditions are meaningful to you and is it important to incorporate them this year. Sometimes we have traditions during the holidays that may or may not be ones we like to keep. Take this opportunity to evaluate what you feel you “have” to do and what you feel you can “stop” doing. Download our “Holiday Job List.”

Trying to do accomplish all the items on your Holiday “to do list” on your own will completely bring your stress to another level. It can be helpful to also think about which people can be supportive of you and which situations might be difficult for you. Create your “Personal Holiday Plan”.

It is expected that you will have moments during the holiday season when you are feeling sad and depressed. Thinking ahead about ways you can comfort yourself or be comforted by others can be helpful. Spend some time now considering “Things I Know Will Help Me When I’m Down”.

Lara Moretti, Manager of Family Support Services shares insight on how the Holidays can be a very difficult time for families who have lost a loved one. Read more here.

Of course, if you would like to speak to someone in Family Support Services, please call at 1-800-366-6771 or email us at family2@donors1.org.