The holidays after loss

Published 11:58 am Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Losing a loved one can make the holidays an especially difficult time of year. During a time in which parties, stores and even TV commercials relay the message that the holidays are a time of joy or to spend time with loved ones, it can be painful to know that you will not be able to see someone you love this time of year.

Grief can be complex. It can be difficult to know how you might feel over the holidays. Understanding that things might be different from how they were and to treat yourself gently and without judgment can make a lot of difference during a painful time.

Joanne Bedford, hospital and hospice chaplain at Virginia Commonwealth University Health Community Memorial Hospital, said in a Dec. 6 article that the holidays can create dread or fear for people who may be afraid to experience the holidays without the people they love.

“For some, the permission to forgo or not do what you used to do is fine,” Bedford said. “The other is to do something new, something different, that you do take some time to memorialize your loved one.”

Bedford also suggested in the article making sure to eat balanced meals and getting proper rest. For those who know people grieving, Bedford suggested being gentle and giving them the time to grieve the best that they can.

After my grandmother’s death in 2014 after caring for her with my family, stress and anxiety were prevailing emotions. It was difficult to feel up to the responsibilities of buying gifts and visiting family members when her loss was so fresh in our minds. Knowing that we were not obligated to Christmas traditions made a difference when we needed an evening to stay in bed or do something different during the holidays.

If you need help during the holiday season, call the Virginia Commonwealth University Health Community Memorial Hospital chaplain services at (434) 447-3151 for bereavement resources.

Emily Hollingsworth is a staff reporter for The K-V Dispatch. Her email address is