Real Families. Real Hope.
Offer God's hope to hurting families.
Yes, I will help struggling families!

When Your Family’s Lost a Loved One: Handling the Holidays

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on print
Share on email
Profile of sad woman sitting, leaning her head against a soft white blanket with a Christmas tree in the background
For families who've lost someone they love, the holidays can seem more like something to survive than to enjoy. We need a plan to help us get through what can be a very difficult time of year.

“Happy Thanksgiving!”

“Merry Christmas!”

“Happy New Year!”

As the end of the year approaches, everywhere we turn someone is telling us we should be happy.

But for families who’ve recently lost someone they love, the holidays can seem more like something to survive than to enjoy. The traditions and events that can add so much joy and meaning to the season are punctuated with painful, repeated reminders of our loss. Many of us wish we could find a quiet place to hide until Jan. 2.

Since we likely can’t hide away, it makes sense to have a strategy as we approach the holiday season. We need a plan that will help us get through what can be a very difficult time of year.

Our daughter, Hope, was born on a Monday before Thanksgiving. I thought we’d always be celebrating her birthday around that holiday. In a sense we do – but of course it’s not the way I thought it would be.

When that first Thanksgiving rolled around six months after Hope died, I was in the lowest part of my grief. I couldn’t bear to do a big family thing, fearing that perhaps no one would say her name or that I wouldn’t have space to just be sad. But we didn’t want to stay home in our quiet house and feel the gloom closing in, either.

We felt we needed to do something completely different, make a new memory. So we drove to Asheville, N.C., stayed in a bed-and-breakfast, visited the Biltmore mansion and went to the movies.

We did have some fun, though our sadness came along for the ride. Still, we did our best to pursue joy and celebrate life together in new and different ways. The change of scenery lightened our load of sorrow.

Shortly before making the trip, I went by a friend’s house. She was one of those people who never seemed to really “get” our loss, and seemed to want me to hurry back to being happy. When I told her about our plans, she said, “That should be fun!” The look she gave me said I was supposed to agree wholeheartedly with her.

“Yes, it should,” I said.

I didn’t know how to explain that when you’ve lost a member of your family, even the best of times are painfully incomplete. Someone is missing. Even the best days, the happiest events, are tinged with sadness.

Holidays raise hard questions for grieving families. How do you get a Christmas tree without Dad, when he always picked out the best one? How does a child find a gift for Dad without Mom there to help? How does a wife get through New Year’s Eve with no one to kiss at the stroke of midnight?

There are no simple answers, no easy ways to get through these important, memory-laden days. But there are a few things that can help bring back some joy amid the sadness.

Dynamic CTA Template Below

Your Teen Needs You Most of All

No parent of teens is perfect and even the best can learn how to better connect with their son or daughter. Get practical action steps to better connect with your teenager in 8 Essential Tips for Parenting Your Teen in this FREE video series!

There Is Still Hope for Your Marriage

You may feel that there is no hope for your marriage and the hurt is too deep to restore the relationship and love that you once had. The truth is, your life and marriage can be better and stronger than it was before. In fact, thousands of marriages, situations as complex and painful as yours, have been transformed with the help of professionals who understand where you are right now and care deeply about you and your spouse’s future. You can restore and rebuild your marriage through a personalized, faith-based, intimate program called, Hope Restored.

Understand How to Respect and Love your Son Well

Why doesn’t my son listen to me? Have you ever asked that question? The truth is, how you see your son and talk to him has a significant effect on how he thinks and acts. That’s why we want to help you. In fact, we’ve created a free five-part video series called “Recognizing Your Son’s Need for Respect” that will help you understand how showing respect, rather than shaming and badgering, will serve to motivate and guide your son.
Book Cover: Aftershock A Plan for Recovery

Aftershock: Overcoming His Secret Life with Pornography: A Plan for Recovery

This book is for women who have discovered their husband’s struggle with pornography and other sexual infidelities. Based on biblical principles and psychologically sound advice, Aftershock is designed to help women heal, grow, and receive restoration for themselves, their husbands, and their marriages.

That the World May Know

Join renowned teacher and historian Ray Vander Laan as he guides you through the lands of the Bible. In each lesson, Vander Laan illuminates the historical, geographical, and cultural context of the sacred Scriptures. Filmed on location in the Middle East, the That the World May Know ® film series will transform your understanding of God and challenge you to be a true follower of Jesus.
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on pinterest
Share on print
Share on email

About the Author