Holiday Grief – How to Cope After Your Parent Dies

Holiday grief and how to cope when your parent dies

Holiday grief after your parent dies can be overwhelming. My mom passed away in October of last year. Except for one year early in my marriage, I had spent every Christmas Day of my life with my mother. 

Knowing the Ghost of Christmas Present is fast upon us, I’m planning ahead for ways to survive Christmas Day again without my mom. I’m definitely not alone in this. If you’ll be spending your first Christmas or Hanukkah without a very important loved one, do you have some positive ideas on how to get through the season? We’d love to hear them.

In the meantime, here are some ideas on how to remember and celebrate your family member in the next few weeks.

Have a Cookie Day

Does your family enjoy once-a-year holiday treats? Perhaps your mom made spectacular cookies, apple pies or chocolate candy.

Spend the day with other members of the family baking her best holiday cookies or other favorites. Print up the recipes and give everyone a copy. You can share some of your mom’s top baking tips with the younger generation while making it a sweet way to celebrate her life.

Pass Down Holiday Decorations

If your parent had favorite ornaments or holiday decorations, think about passing them down to others in the family. Maybe your father was a top-notch golfer and had a collection of golf ornaments. Or your family member collected snow men. Each member of the family could select one of their favorites from the collection.

When my son was young, Mom gave him a new nutcracker soldier every year that was placed on the fireplace mantel. The nutcrackers were at least a foot tall and matched his interests at the time. They included a guitar player, football player and even a chef. I recently went through our Christmas boxes and found the nutcracker collection. My son now has three of his favorites for his own home. They’ll serve as an annual reminder of the deep love his grandmother had for him.

Pass down holiday decorations

Display Their Photo

If you have a favorite photo of your loved one, place it in a Christmas- or Hanukkah-themed frame for the holiday season. Display the photo wherever you gather for festivities. It could be the Christmas tree where you traditionally open gifts, the kitchen where you make holiday dishes or in a private space in your home if that feels more comfortable to you.

Wear That Beloved Christmas Sweater

Maybe your parent had a beautiful holiday sweater (not an “Ugly Sweater”!). Wear the sweater during the holidays or maybe just on Christmas Day or the first day of Hanukkah.

Hang Their Stocking

Hang your parent’s stocking from the mantelpiece. If they didn’t have a stocking, create a beautiful new one with their name on it.

Toast to Their Memory

Enjoy a nice bottle of champagne along with breakfast after all the gifts are opened on Christmas morning. My mom loved pink champagne so we’ll have a little rosé toast in her honor this year.

Additional Ideas

If you’re looking for more ways to cope with holiday grief after your parent dies, here’s a great website that can help. The site offers an entire series on managing grief during the holidays as well as birthdays, anniversaries and other special days of the year.

Do you have an idea that could help others get through their first major holiday without a loved one? Please share! We’d love to hear about them.

2 thoughts on “Holiday Grief – How to Cope After Your Parent Dies

  1. Excellent ideas that everyone can use for a loved one not with us for the holidays. Thank you!

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