Saturday Morning Message: Holiday Coping Strategies

Author: Carol Lane

Good Morning,

This week I am sending a picture of the poinsettia I bought for the holiday season. I loved it because it combined both the red and white varieties. Since I can’t have anyone physically in the house during the pandemic, I thought I would give you a virtual peek into my home.

Carol's Poinsettia

December is always a good time for reflection and a time to gather questions for Saturday Morning Messages in the new year. We want to hear from you. Are there topics that have affected or interested you this year? Or, is there something about your grief journey that has troubled you recently and it would be helpful to hear how others have coped? Maybe, you just have an idea of something you think would make a good question for our survivor community. I like to select questions that might be applicable to all survivors. I look forward to hearing from you at

By sharing coping strategies, we become stronger. This week survivors have written what they do to cope with the holidays and I have included a recipe from my grandmother’s cookbook. I hope you enjoy this week’s message.

Carol Lane
Mother of Bryon


Responses from Survivors to last week's question

What are your strategies for coping with the holiday season?

From Peggy, mother of Cody: The holidays have always been a struggle since our son's death. He was home for Christmas and it was so amazing. Then everything turned on January 2, 2012.

The first Christmas was so difficult, but still having 2 children at home we tried to keep it as normal as possible because our son, Cody, loved holidays and our girls deserved some normalcy. His favorite holidays were Halloween, 4th of July and Christmas! It was so difficult the first year. Cody's absence from our family was hard on all of us. I still decorated, as usual, even though I had no desire, but Cody always went all out on the holidays he loved and decorated big.

Since his passing we now go all out on holidays, because we know the joy it would bring him; and, honestly, it has done a lot for our family as well. It is a tradition and one that has stayed. We no longer hang his stocking because of the painful reminder of his absence. We also have added some new traditions like sending handmade Christmas cards to patients at Walter Reed hospital. 

This year is different with COVID-19. We will still decorate inside and out, like the Griswolds. We will not be sending cards, but I do plan on leaving some pre-packaged treats on neighbors’ doorsteps, especially the elderly. We also plan on adopting a nursing home resident. Cody enjoyed helping those who were less fortunate, so this is a great way to honor him. Helping others helps us get through the tough times and warms our hearts. Hopefully, it helps others have a bit more joy in their lives.

From Sandra, mother of Joshua: My strategies for coping with the holiday season are to always have a plan and to say no to invites that are not in my comfort zone. This was my 4th Thanksgiving and will be my 4th Christmas after the death of my older son. Every Christmas and Thanksgiving are different now and change like the seasons. On this Thanksgiving, there was turkey, two sides and pie. On Christmas, there will be a two foot artificial Home Depot Christmas tree with generic Christmas ball ornaments, two Walmart Christmas pillows on the couch and a Christmas wreath on the front door. I do this for my younger son.

There are now only three of us together on holidays. We will open presents in the morning and eat spiral ham, green beans, mashed potatoes and pie in the afternoon. I plan on reading a book that I ordered called “Mystic Tea”, renting a new release, going for a walk and drinking a little wine. In the evening, I will have coffee and pie for dinner.

This has become my new Christmas. My holiday will not be very adventurous or exciting but it will be bearable. Sometimes, Godwinks occur during the holidays and those are blessings too.

We Welcome Your Comments

If you would like to send a note commenting on one or all of the responses in this week’s Saturday Morning Message, send it to and your thoughts will be passed along to each contributor. You never know how your words may touch the heart of another.


Question for Next Week’s Saturday Morning Message 

How do you include your loved one or the memory of your loved one into your holiday traditions?

The memory of our loved ones is with us each and everyday, but it's during the holidays when we often miss them most and wish they were near. Many of us continue to make memories with our loved ones during these special times, even though they are no longer physically with us. I look forward to hearing how you continue to honor and remember your loved ones during the holidays. 

In order to have your reply considered for the following week’s edition, it is best to send your response by Tuesday morning to me at Thank you to everyone responding this week and to those who read this message.


Recipe for the Week


silverware icon

From Carol, mother of Bryon: My grandmother made these for all her grandchildren and we looked forward to having a few each December.

Grandma Lillie's Holiday Cookies


  • ½ cup butter
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon grated orange rind
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 cup sifted flour


  • Mix well. Make into small balls and roll. Place on a baking sheet. Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes.

Next Week: We will feature a song from a survivor and why it is special to the them.

If you have a favorite recipe or song for this section, please send your ideas to me at and include a note about why there is meaning for you.


Related Stories

christmas candle

Article: Healing Your Holiday Grief

You can find continued meaning in the holidays and in life. You can continue to live and love fully. You must grieve but you can also celebrate.

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Video: New Traditions and Tips for the Holidays

This webinar provides tools for navigating the holidays after the loss of a loved one.


Other Items and Events of Interest

Arlington Cemetery family at headstone

Join us on Memorial Day Weekend, May 28 to 30, for our 27th Annual National Military Survivor Seminar! We will be live streaming all of our general sessions with guest speakers.

Important Note: In-person registration is still open, but we are in a waitlist situation due to COVID occupancy restrictions in the State of Virginia. 

If you have any questions, email or call our Helpline at 202.588.TAPS (8277).

Learn More and Register


▶▶  Connect With Your TAPS Family 

You can discover all the opportunities to connect with your TAPS Family on our website at the TAPS Event Calendar.

About the Saturday Morning Message

The Saturday Morning Message (SMM) is a weekly communication contributed by survivors. The primary focus of the SMM is to foster peer-based connections for support and encouragement. It is the goal of this communication to foster a safe, supportive place where we can openly share in a nonjudgmental and caring manner. Read and contribute as you are comfortable. Content submitted for the SMM is edited for space considerations and may be used in other TAPS publications. The loving family at TAPS is available to you 24 hours a day. Please call 202-588-TAPS (8277).