Dealing with Loss at the Holidays
by Joanne Troppello
My father passed away in March 2018. It’s been 1 year and 8 months since he passed away. My dad and I didn’t have the best relationship. You can read more about his passing and how I’ve dealt with it in my article, A Letter to My Dad. I’ve included my poem that I wrote to him, “A Letter to My Dad” in this article today as well.
Even though we didn’t have a close relationship, that doesn’t make it any harder to deal with his loss—especially during the holidays.
Dealing with loss is a part of life, but that doesn’t make it any less difficult to handle. We go through the 7 stages of grief:
Shock and Denial
Pain and Guilt
Anger and Bargaining
The Upward Turn
However, it’s not an easy process to go through. Some people struggle for years dealing with these seven stages. You can even get stuck for years in one of the stages and not find your way through it.
This is my personal take on the issue, but if you need professional help dealing with grief and the issues that can occur like mental and/or substance use disorders contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) for help.
Here are some things I have done to cope with the loss of my father’s passing and my Oma (grandmother) four years ago.
1. Share with Family
I’ve taken the time to share how I feel, in dealing with the passing of my Oma, with family members like my mom. I wanted to be there for my mom since Oma was her mother and in turn was able to express how I felt.
With my dad, I shared more with my sister since my parents got divorced when I was 15 years old and it’s not a subject I usually discuss with my mom. It has been good to share my feelings with my husband as well, since he recently lost his Nonna (grandmother).
2. Take the Time to Process
I’m a person who takes time processing things and that’s okay. I needed to tell myself that it was okay to feel sad again during this holiday season—even though I’ve already moved through the 7 stages of grief.
The holidays will always make dealing with grief more difficult. You need to prepare yourself for that and allow time to grieve during the holidays.
3. Create New Traditions
Maybe you had a tradition that was started by this family member who passed away. Or it has become painful to continue following this tradition every holiday season.
Consider getting creative and create new traditions that can help you move forward and continue with the healing process. Maybe you’ll want to have a conversation with your immediate and extended family members to see how they feel and if they have any ideas about new traditions to start.
How Writing Can Help in the Grief Process
As I mentioned, I wrote a poem after my father passed away. I called it “A Letter to My Dad” and it truly helped me start the grieving process—and handle the loss in my own way.
Maybe you enjoy writing and are dealing with loss. Consider writing in a journal, or write a letter or poem expressing your feelings.
A Letter to my Dad
You called my sister Pumpkin and me Princess.
I saw you through the eyes of a child,
but soon outgrew my childish innocence.
I grew up too soon with eyes open wide.
Feeling overwhelmed from drama at home
left me with nowhere to hide.
A memory still fresh in my mind,
when I said, “I hate you” and wanted you to go.
Peace was so difficult to find.
Years passed by without connection.
Then I let you in to my life again,
but there remained your rejection.
I regret to this day not letting you back in,
to walk me down the aisle on my wedding day.
I was still wrapped up in irreconciliation.
I am thankful for reconnecting again,
through phone calls on holidays and special days.
Yet that wasn’t enough to erase the pain.
I was sad when I heard you got sick,
and felt worse when lack of money kept me away.
The clock continued to tick, and tick, and tick.
You are now gone far away.
I hope you made the decision to accept the cross
And one day in Heaven I’ll see you, I pray.
(Roger Kerzmann, Sr. 1948-2018)
About the Author
Joanne Troppello is a published author of 3 inspirational fiction novels and the Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Mustard Seed Sentinel. She has experience as a freelance writer in topics such as marketing, retail marketing, health and wellness, SEO and social media, travel and lifestyle, website content, recommendations for apps, and content for blogs. Visit her Amazon Author Page for more information regarding her books. Connect on Twitter. Read more about Mustard Seed Sentinel here.