Not Just Getting Through the Holidays

One of the most cringe worthy platitudes I hear in regards to grief is: “You will move on in time.” Most people mean well but unless they have experienced this deep loss they don’t truly understand what those words mean. The truth is you will never really “move on” but you will move forward. I highly recommend the TedTalk by Nora McInerny titled: We don’t “move on” from grief. We move forward with it.” (

I would like to offer some ways that you can exist during the holiday season amidst your grief and hopefully find some healing and peace versus just pulling the covers over your head until the New Year arrives. Below are three tips on how you can move forward this holiday season not just get through it.

Allow yourself to be sad. Memories are tied to people. The holidays are an extremely nostalgic time because of the people that you love and the memories that you share with them. It is natural to feel their void in your life more deeply during times of tradition and celebration. Allow yourself to feel those feelings. It’s ok to think about them, miss them and to show emotions. “There is a sacredness in tears. They are not the mark of weakness, but of power. They speak more eloquently than ten thousand tongues. They are the messengers of overwhelming grief, of deep contrition, and of unspeakable love,” Washington Irving.

I ran into a daughter and her mother visiting their loved one at our cemetery. The daughter was telling me how she and her mother just finished putting some decorations on her father’s grave. She told me how she and her mother spent the last week together making the trinkets they would adorn his grave with. She continued to tell me how this new tradition of theirs has brought healing to her and her mother. Here are some ideas of ways you can honor these special people and keep their memory alive in your holiday traditions:

  • Try and continue the traditions you did together if you can.
  • Set a place at the table for them for your family gathering.
  • Buy or make a special ornament representing them.
  • Journal about your favorite holiday memories or traditions for future posterity.
  • Write a letter to your loved one and put it in their Christmas stocking.
  • Visit their gravesite, cemeteries bring a lot of peace and comfort.
  • Our funeral home holds an annual holiday remembrance service in early December, consider attending.

Maybe your loss is so new it’s too painful to even think about continuing traditions or creating new ones and that is ok. My last suggestion is giving the gift of charity. Who doesn’t feel good after doing something good for someone else? One of the best ways to help mend a grieving heart is to get lost in the service of others. The holidays bring ample opportunities to serve others who are also struggling. I have compiled a list of ideas that are local to Sacramento.

I hope reading this gave you permission to grieve the way you need to, inspired you with ideas on how to remember and honor your loved one in a special way that is close to your heart or introduced you to ways that you can serve others here in the community. Remember that the memories you have will always keep the spirit of your loved ones alive. Our thoughts are with each of the families we have been privileged to serve  and all of those who are navigating loss during this holiday season.

Author: Jessica Harston | Funeral Director at East Lawn Mortuary – FD # 1242

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