Grappling With Grief
Health|December 2018
Grappling With Grief

Losing someone you love can make this season hard to handle. Here are some ways to ease the pain and honor your memories.

Rebecca Soffer

SINCE CHILDHOOD, I’D always reveled in my status as a “parent person.” My mom and dad were my best friends, my biggest source of encouragement and guidance, a joy (for the most part) to hang out with, the ones who made special milestones and seasons, well, the most special. I was lucky, and I knew it.

But at just 34 years old, I found myself without them. My mom was killed in a car accident when I was 30, and a few years later, my father suffered a fatal heart attack. Quickly and without warning, I went from being a “parent person” to being a person without living parents. My mother and father would never meet my future husband. I would never place my babies in their arms.

I now have years of experience and expertise in grief —personal, of course, but also professional, as cofounder of the website Modern Loss and coauthor of a book by the same name. I know firsthand that no matter whom you lost, and no matter how many years have passed since it happened, grief never leaves you. I also know that for many of us who have lost loved ones, the holiday season—which comes with its own stressors—can be especially hard to bear. “A lot of things are at play toward the end of the year that can really bring grief roaring back,” says Claire Bidwell Smith, a grief therapist and author of Anxiety: The Missing Stage of Grief. “It’s not just the festive season, with beloved rituals and ongoing celebrations. It’s also a time when the days are shorter and temperatures are dropping throughout much of the country.”

But it’s possible to reclaim this time of year in a significant way, as I’ve slowly learned to do through trial and error. With some effort, creativity, and a heavy dose of self-care, you can reshape beloved rituals and create new ones that are uniquely meaningful to you—just like your loss. Here’s some of the best advice I’ve found:

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December 2018