Healing Your Holiday Grief

Author: Betsy Beard

100 practical ideas100 Practical Ideas for Blending Mourning and Celebration During the Holiday Season

The winter holidays, with their emphases on miracles and gifts, are difficult for those of us grieving the death of an important family member or other loved one. While the hearts of others are lifted in celebration and merry-making, our hearts seem to grow heavier with thoughts of our loved one and the gaping hole they left in our lives.  

Dr. Alan Wolfelt wrote this practical guide to help us blend (not ignore) mourning with celebration in a way that will work for us and our families. It contains 100 “practical thoughts and ideas to help you understand your holiday grief and, even more important, express it.” Although the book is written to address primarily the winter holidays from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day, the principles can apply to whatever holidays are most meaningful to you as an individual, including birthdays, anniversaries, and other holidays that occur throughout the year.

100 Practical Ideas is actually a series of books including different volumes customized for the relationship or the type of loss. There are books tailored for teens, parents, spouses, adult children, and siblings. In addition to the books with guidance for the different relationships, there are also books for your grieving soul, your grieving body, your workplace, and for dealing with sudden, traumatic death. The basic principle of each book is to enlist us in actively mourning so that we can actively heal.

Each page contains one idea or suggestion. Some of the ideas explain the fundamentals of grief and loss. Others offer suggestions of activities that you can use to help yourself along in your journey. The suggestions are not necessarily sequential, so you can pick and choose randomly, finding one thought each day that seems to speak to your specific need on that day.

The text is arranged with bullet points for easy reading and quick understanding. After reading the selection, there is an exercise at the bottom of the page to suggest ways to incorporate the thought into your life. The exercise is labeled Carpe Diem, which is Latin for seize the day. The Carpe Diem suggestion is designed to help you “do something with your grief, right here and now.” By giving us suggestions of activities that are easy to complete, the guide gives us a concrete manner of expressing our grief in a way that is helpful and meaningful. 

Healing Your Holiday Grief: 100 Practical Ideas for Blending Mourning and Celebration during the Holiday Season is exactly what its title suggests: an abundance of ideas to help us fully express our loss while participating in some small way in celebrating life.

The 100 Ideas Series is available at www.centerforloss.com. Click on Companion Bookstore.

Betsy BeardBy Betsy Beard, Surviving mom of SPC Bradley S. Beard: Betsy Beard served as the editor of TAPS Magazine for seven years in addition to volunteering as a peer mentor, care group facilitator, and national workshop presenter. In that time she authored a number of TAPS publications and Quick Series Guides, as well as the award-winning children's book, Klinger: A Story of Honor and Hope and many articles for TAPS Magazine. Betsy has been published in Living with Loss publications and various newspapers. She currently is a freelance book editor and serves as the awards director of Military Writers Society of America.  She lives in North Carolina with her husband, Randy.