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Holidays & Grief

holiday grief peanuts

I can’t believe it’s been one year already.

Last November our family lost two loved ones. My uncle died unexpectedly on November 13 after a brief illness and my Grammy passed away on November 27, Thanksgiving Day 2014.

For our family the holiday season starts with remembering the pain of loss.

Not exactly holiday cheer.

We feel the loss renewed at the anniversary of their passing providing dramatic contrast against the backdrop of the holiday season when we are expected to be merry, lighthearted, and happy.

This holiday season we will miss family members who have been a part of the celebrations all my life. The warm feelings of comfort, joy, and peace of the holidays pair with reminders of profound loss and longing.

Our family is not the only one experiencing loss this season. I often think of a counseling client who lost his wife this year. He’s struggling to consider how he and his children will face Thanksgiving and Christmas for the first time without their wife and mother. We are certainly not alone in our grief and neither are you.

Words are inadequate to completely heal grief but I pray the following words direct you and I to better journey this season of celebration and grief.

1. Remember.

Memory is a powerful tool intimately intertwined with emotion. In grief memory contains pain and sorrow but our memories also help provide healing. Now I’ll always remember Thanksgiving Day as the day we lost Grammy. It colors the day differently than before. As hard as it was to lose her on a holiday, seems appropriate to think of her that day because I’ll always be thankful for her influence on my life. Ignoring your grief may seem easier but it’s not a healthy option.

2. Cry.

Allow yourself to feel whatever emotion you’re experiencing today. In grief emotion seems to come in waves. Each of our emotions play an important part in life and in grief. Acknowledge grief and the accompanying emotion rather than trying to hide or stuff your real emotion.

3. Celebrate.

It’s ok to celebrate the holidays even as you grieve. Your traditions will never feel the same but finding your way to celebrate will help heal the raw pain of loss. In his classic book on grief, A Decembered Grief, Harold Ivan Smith writes: “Be guided by the reality that there is no right or wrong way to celebrate the holidays after a loved one has died.”

4. Gather.

As impossible as it may sound, do not give in to isolation in your grief. Surround yourself with others. You are designed for community. At Christmas we celebrate the reality that we are not alone. God is with us. Jesus also experienced grief following the death of his friend and met with others in his grief.

What has helped you the most in the past when you’ve faced grief during the holidays?

Other posts on grief and loss from Make Some Wonderful:

What your spouse really needs in times of loss

4 Steps to Overcome Loaded Loss

Minor Loss Matters in Marriage

Related– The Secret to Delighting Your Spouse This Christmas: A Life Lesson From My Grammy

Ah-ha Moments

Copyright:  / 123RF Stock Photo
Copyright: / 123RF Stock Photo


Thanks to you, the launch day for The Best Holidays Ever! eBook was a success.
It has been a joy to share my passion for helping couples connect better this season. I feel privileged to hear of its impact from readers by email, Twitter interactions, Facebook posts, personal conversations, and reviews on the Amazon sales page. I’m honored to hear how The Best Holidays Ever! has helped people view their relationships differently.

“There were many times, while reading this book, that I found myself pondering the past holidays and having an “Ah-ha” moment. I had never really considered how families and traditions blend together (or how they don’t) between married couples.” -Teri

I love this review. “Ah-ha” moments are treasures adding opportunity for increased connection in marriage. To see the other reviews of The Best Holidays Ever! and to get your own copy, Click here.

Don’t miss out on your own “Ah-ha” moments. It’s not too late to have the best holidays ever in your marriage.

The initial launch day is over but you can still participate by adding your thoughts and “Ah-ha” moments in a review. If you haven’t already, get a copy today. It’s easy to download onto your Kindle or any computer by using the Kindle app.

Copyright:  / 123RF Stock Photo
Copyright: / 123RF Stock Photo


You may recall I offered a $30 Amazon gift card to those who wrote a review on launch day. [drum roll please] and the winner is …..Angela Moore. Congratulations!

Advanced Skill Challenge: The #1 way to transform your marriage

Copyright: pixelsaway / 123RF Stock Photo
Copyright: pixelsaway / 123RF Stock Photo

Yep. The number one way to transform your marriage is to give thanks.

If you desire deeper connection in your marriage, you can reach it. True transformation is possible.

Keep reading.

One of my favorite Thanksgiving family traditions is sharing what we are thankful for. While the smell of turkey and pumpkin pie is wafting through the house tempting our taste buds, we sit down for our Thanksgiving meal. Before we dive into the mashed potatoes and gravy we pause to share what we are thankful for. It’s a great way to start off the meal and the entire holiday season. We reflect on our blessings and express our thanks. Often we thank God who is our provider but we also thank each other for their unique contribution to our life.

It’s pretty simple really, nothing elegant or theatrical, profound in simplicity, meaningful in togetherness.

In our premarital counseling with pastor Hal Perkins, he challenged us to each day give thanks to God for the blessing of each other. That sounded pretty easy, besides we were enamored with each other; our wedding was only a few weeks away. Of course we could give thanks for each other; we enthusiastically agreed to his challenge. Then he added the words that changed everything.

Out loud.

In the years since we have found giving thanks for each other out loud changes it from easy to do and easy to forget, to an advanced relationship skill requiring intentional effort.

Are you up to the challenge? It’s pretty simple really, nothing elegant or theatrical, but it will deepen your connection and transform your marriage.

  1. Daily express thanks for your spouse out loud, to each other.
  2. Say it even when you don’t feel it. It sounds counterintuitive but it is the secret formula of successful connection. When you say it out loud, it comes true. When you say out loud “I’m thankful for you today” you actually BECOME more thankful for them.

It’s good for your spouse to hear from you. It’s even better for you to hear yourself say it to them.

Making thankfulness a part of your marriage is a great way to Make some Wonderful in your marriage all year long. Pausing to give thanks for the blessing of your spouse will provide a healthy foundation for The Best Holidays Ever.

Did you accept the give thanks challenge?

To discover more ways to deepen the connection with your spouse this holiday season check out my e-book.

It details the top six causes of conflict in marriage and how you can move toward connection. (No surprise, giving thanks is a big part of having The Best Holidays Ever!) Download it now to see my practical tips to integrate thanksgiving into all of your holiday celebrations.

Your Guide to The Best Holidays Ever: How to move from conflict to connection in your marriage this holiday season is still available as an ebook for your convenience.

In The Best Holidays Ever you will receive detailed step-by-step ways to reduce conflict and build real connection with your spouse. Making deeper connection with your spouse will be your favorite and most cherished gift this holiday season.

Buy e-book now