Grieving Through the Holidays

For many of you, this year will be the first year without someone at the Thanksgiving table or around the Christmas tree.  There will be a blank spot where your loved one used to be.  Amidst all the festivities, there will be pain.

It will be one of many firsts.

Emily’s first taste of turkey.

In 2007, we spent Thanksgiving at home with just our immediate family for the first time ever.  We had a wonderful time cooking up all our favorite treats and letting Emily taste her first ever bite of turkey.

In 2008, Emily was no longer with us, but I could see her everywhere we went that holiday season.  Even today, her stocking still hangs on our mantle, empty.  Her first Christmas ornament still graces our Christmas tree.  Her memory is everywhere in our holiday festivities.  And yes, sometimes there are tears because I miss my little fuzzy-headed baby girl.

This year, it is my Grandpa who will be missing.  I’m sure we will all laugh and remember as people do when they grieve, but there will be a sadness too because our memories never quite feel like enough.

Today, as one who knows what it is like to grieve through the holidays,  I wanted to offer you just a few ideas and resources to ease the pain and create some special traditions that include the memory of your loved one in the holiday festivities.

– Say a prayer.  Start your holiday meal with a prayer, thanking God for the life of your loved one and asking for comfort through this difficult season.  This acknowledges the hole left by the death of your loved one, but also keeps your heart focused on the Lord as you grieve.

– Remember your loved one by remembering some of the things they loved best about the holidays.  Did they have a favorite Christmas hymn?  Sing it!  Did they have a favorite dish?  Make it!

– Create a special ornament for your loved one.

Emily's star

When Emmy passed away, someone made a contribution in her name to AgapeCare Cradle. This ornament was given to us by AgapeCare Cradle to honor our daughter.

Many companies make ornaments to honor loved ones, like the star we received from AgapeCare Cradle, but you can also make your own. It can be anything from an ornament that is a special color or design that reminds you of your loved one to a small frame with their photo and an ornament hook glued on the back.

– Put a holiday wreath on their grave.  Wreaths are our favorite thing to put out at Emmy’s grave.  We change them out with the season.

– Read through my free eDevotional Psalms for the Grieving Heart There is so much healing and comfort in the Psalms.

– Start a new tradition.  This is so difficult for grieving families who don’t want to do anything new that does not include their lost loved one, but I have experienced firsthand how good it can be to do something different.  It might be something like doing a new Advent devotional or changing where you go for the holidays.  Try not to see it as a sad thing, but rather as a way of moving forward (not “moving on”).

All of you who are grieving this holiday season, you have my deepest sympathies and my heartfelt prayers.  May you find comfort and peace and hope…blessed hope.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.
2 Corinthians 1:3-4

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21 Comments on Grieving Through the Holidays

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21 thoughts on “Grieving Through the Holidays

  1. Amy, a note to encourage and thank you. It is so kind, generous, and thoughtful of you to continue to use your loss of Emily to try to comfort others. God truly uses your pain to help other people. Thank you for talking about the hard things.

  2. Thank you so much for your posts on grief and for sharing Emily’s story. I just read it again and cried again. I have a little one right now who is the same age as Emmy was when she died. My husband and I also have a child with Jesus; our firstborn son who left 7 years ago as a 2 day old newborn. It is indeed a bitter loss, a pain too deep to describe. Praise God for His unending care, His healing hand, and the sure hope we have in Christ. Thank you again for ministering in this way to those who grieve. It can be a lonely road and it is a balm to have someone who understands. Blessings to you this holiday season!

  3. Some loved ones are not with us, because they have gone on before us (my grandparents). Some lived ones are not with us because of a tragic accident (my brother). Others are not with us because they have chosen not to be, because of bitterness (my mom). My mom lost one child by fate, and one by choice. It greives my heart. Blessings, Shari mom to 11 grandma to 6

  4. Thank you for this timely post Amy. We are missing my mother-in-law this year and she truly was closer to me than my own mom. It is hard for dad and after I read your post I sent an email out to family to come ready to share some of their favorite Grandma memories. He will love the ornament idea too. We will be praying for your family too during this time. Much love, Marci

  5. Thank you SO MUCH for this post!!! This will be the first Thanksgiving without my Dad, who passed away suddenly in February. I’m also coming off of 2 miscarriages since May. It’s been a rough year and I was looking forward to being with family, but not the pain that I know will come in waves tomorrow. So THANK YOU for sharing these tips!!! I’m downloading the ebook now!!


  6. Thank for your sharing this. It is especially poignant because you KNOW exactly how it feels to lose someone.

    I am so sorry for the loss of your precious daughter and again for the loss of your grandfather. It hurts so much to lose someone we love.

    One of my special memories is sitting around with my brothers and sisters and my mom after my dad’s memorial service. It was just so great to share laughter and tears and memories of our dad and know that they really KNEW, they really understood how I felt, because they were feeling it too.

    My thoughts and prayers are with you, my friend!

  7. Thank you so much for this post.
    As we were sitting down to Thanksgiving dinner, we got a call saying that my uncle had been in an accident and was being airlifted to a trauma center. His heart had stopped at the scene, but the medical staff at two hospitals, first responders and the flight crew all did all they could to “bring him back”. It was not to be. My uncle “moved on” to be with the Lord yesterday. We are grieving our loss, but rejoicing for the man who finally gave his heart to the Lord just this year. Thanksgiving will forever be changed in our lives, but I am thankful for the knowledge that one day we will see him again.

  8. Thank you for your willingness to share your pain to help bring comfort to others. A dear friend lost her mother this month and I’m thinking of sending her your ebook. I just have to say, that’s such a sweet picture and you can really see how much Emily looks like you in it!

  9. Thank you so much for your website. This is my first year without my precious Mama. She went to Heaven in July. Grief is at times all comsuming and at other times on the back burner just simmering waiting for a moment to boil over. It is my sister’s first year without her father-in-law and we also lost the oldest member of our family this year. It has been a very very difficult year for my family. But we have our Christmas trees lit, our presents wrapped and our stockings hung because Jesus still comes and for that we are eternally grateful. Thanks and God Bless you.

  10. Thank you for this Amy. It’s been 17 mos. since our 16 yo son was welcomed into Heaven after a tragic drowning accident. Last year we were pretty numb so this year seems like the first year since we lost him. It’s pretty difficult but learning to trust the Lord that His ay is best is what we’re striving for. Thankful for the manger, Calvary and His resurrection and the hope we have of Heaven and being reunited with our loved ones. Blessings, Muffy