Grief during the holidays

November marks the beginning of the winter holiday season. From Thanksgiving to Hanukkah and Christmas through New Year’s, it’s a flurry of dinners, parties and gatherings as people come together to “celebrate the season.”

Photo by Flickr Creative Commons/Dan Bock

For me, November also marks a season of anniversaries – anniversaries of the deaths of loved ones. Both of my grandfathers died during November, one in 2010 and one in 2006, as did my husband’s grandmother, also in 2006. My husband, who is from Canada, lost his other grandmother in October 2004 at Canadian Thanksgiving. Each year, alongside the turkey and the pumpkin pie, comes a heaping spoonful of sadness as we remember the ones who aren’t there to celebrate with us.

As the years go by, it stings a little less – but the absence of our loved ones is still felt. The first Thanksgiving and Christmas after my mom’s father died, it was hard for us to talk about him. Too many tears, too much hurt. Now, six years later, we can speak of him and remember him without falling apart. We can bring him back into the celebration, talk about him to his great grandchildren, and pass on his memory and legacy. It feels good to be able to do so.

With my dad’s father, who died more recently, the pain of loss is still too sharp. Last Thanksgiving, I don’t think we spoke of him at all, focusing instead on vacations, college selections, football. This year I hope we can welcome my grandfather back into the family and – by sharing memories – make him a part of the celebration once again.

We at know how difficult the holiday season can be for those, like me, who have experienced loss. That’s why we created a guide to Handling the Holidays. At year’s end and every day, LegacyConnect offers comfort and connection for those who are grieving.

May you find peace and comfort this holiday season.

About Jessica

In 2005, I moved to Chicago and began looking for a job. Having spent nearly a decade in New York and Los Angeles as a teacher and children's bookseller, I expected I would do something similar. But the job that caught my eye and intrigued me most was not in education or children’s literature. It was in online obituaries, of all things. Obituaries? Yes, obituaries. In my years with Legacy – whether screening Guest Book entries, managing customer service or developing editorial content – I’ve had the opportunity to help people at the most difficult times in their lives. Though it isn’t always easy to explain what I do, it’s easy for friends and family to see how satisfied I am with my work. When I’m not providing support to our online grief and loss community, I can usually be found providing support to my husband, preschooler, toddler and two cats. I also enjoy visiting my family in Alabama and playing my ukulele.
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