Dealing with Grief at the Holidays
By Lynne Conner, Observer Correspondent
December 9, 2021
ROCKFORD—For many teens in Healing Hearts 815, a nondenominational group that help members tackle grief, the upcoming holiday season will be their first without the physical presence of a loved one who has died this year. Melinda Hagerman, a funeral director at Fitzgerald Funeral Home, spoke at the group’s November meeting on “Coping with Grief Over the Holidays.” 
 
“One thing to remember is to be kind to yourself and use the tools of talking and tears to manage your grief during the holidays.”
—Melinda Hagerman
“When the holidays approach, people experience a whole new phase of grief,” she said. “One thing to remember is to be kind to yourself and use the tools of talking and tears to manage your grief during the holidays.”
 

Hagerman encouraged those gathered to use holiday rituals to honor the memory of a departed family member or friend. “Holiday traditions can be very powerful in helping us to handle our grief during this time. Don’t be afraid to say ‘no’ to some holiday plans, keep others and create new traditions which include the loved one who has died,” she said.
 
“Some people who have lost a child will donate a book or toy to a charity in the child’s name,” Hagerman said. “Other people will light candles or tell stories at their holiday dinners, to keep the memory of their loved one alive.
 
People will donate money or a plant to their church at Christmas to commemorate a family member’s passing. The important thing is that you need to tell the story of your loved one and decide which ways of remembering that person are most meaningful.”
 
Hagerman, of Fitzgerald Funeral Home, suggests answering these questions to help you form your personal holiday plan. Being prepared can help you manage grief. 
 
– What do I anticipate to be rough waters during the holidays?
 
– What are some specific strategies I might use to cope with stress during the holidays?
 
– Which holiday traditions are most important to me this year?
 
– Which holiday traditions might I skip this year to reduce stress?
 
– What help or support might I seek from others?
 
– What is the spiritual significance of the holidays for me?
 
– What demands on my energy and time would I like to say no to this holiday season?
 
– What is something that I have always wanted to do during the holidays?
 
– What are some of my favorite holiday memories?
 
– What is something special I could plan for after the holidays?

 

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