Holiday blues – a reflection on grief and sorrow at a joyous time of the year


How is your grief today?  How is your grief today?  A client of mine said a dear friend asks her this question on a regular basis.  This woman has experienced the death of many family members in a very short period of time.  This seems like such a simple question and yet it is rarely asked.  More often than not people may ask how you are doing, and most likely aren’t ready or willing to hear an honest answer from someone who is grieving.  The truth of the matter is, we live in a culture that denies death and in lock step turns its back on grief and bereavement. Many businesses may give employees one, maybe two days off of work if a loved one has died.  The bottom line is many people are uncomfortable with the grief expressed by others because they are terrified of death and of what it must feel like to be in that much pain and sorrow. Rather than ask this simple question, how is your grief today?  Many people tiptoe around even asking or avoid contact with the people who are in a state of grief. The holidays can be a huge reminder of those who are no longer with us.  It is a time of gathering with friends and family, a time of traditions. But what if the foundation is no longer there?  What if those who created the centerpiece of the holidays are no longer with us? New traditions can always be created, but it takes time. Even when our loved ones may have died many years ago, we can still feel sorrow during this jovial season.  Those who are grieving often just want to stay under the covers and avoid the merriment altogether.  Time does heal, and grief ebbs and flows. The best we can do for ourselves and others is to honor when our grief shows up rather than pretending all is fine.

During this holiday season please remember to be kind to yourself and to others.  If you know someone has recently experienced the death of a close companion or partner or family member, start the conversation by asking how is your grief today? The words themselves can be healing.  Just knowing that someone understands you might be having a tough time right now and they cared enough to just ask the simple question can make a difference.  Those who are grieving don’t need you to do anything, or try to fix or numb the pain. Honestly all they often need is to know it’s okay that they are not up to the festivities. Many may say one should not wallow in their own sadness. The truth of the matter is, we all grieve differently. Some people may not shed one single tear. That does not mean they do not feel the sadness, emptiness and loss. My hope for this holiday season is that we are kind to each other and do not have false expectations that everyone should be happy because it is the holiday season after all. Remember this simple question going forward when you have a dear friend or colleague who is bereaved. How is your grief today? It can open doors and allow each of us to feel what we feel without judgment and without the need to fix or be fixed.


(December 9, 2016 ~