Holidays After The Death Of A Loved One

I remember the first holiday I faced without my Mom. It was Thanksgiving. My first Thanksgiving without my Mom, was also my first Thanksgiving being a Mom. It was a strange twist of fate that had me confused and bewildered. The holidays after the death of a loved one is hard.

I was in uncharted waters, in a confusing and disoriented world, and I didn’t know how to deal with it. I didn’t want to deal with it. Celebrating a holiday for the first time without a loved one is very hard.

I was sad and devastated at my loss, and thrilled and elated at my gain. I did the best I could with the hand I was dealt. That’s really all any of us can do. I remember so vividly how hard that first holiday was, and all the first holidays that came after it. One dreaded occasion after another. Each holiday brought reminders of years past, and of what would never be again.

The holiday season is especially hard when you've lost a loved one.

The holiday season is especially hard when you’ve lost a loved one.

We had to begin new traditions and make new memories. Trying to figure out how to do this, and hold on to the past at the same time, wasn’t easy. Everyone kept telling me, “Once you get past the holiday season, it will get better. This time of year is especially hard when you’ve lost someone.” They were right.

It was particularly hard, and it did get better. Eventually. Many holiday seasons later.

I feel for people who are facing this now.

If you’ve lost a loved one, I know it’s especially difficult this time of year. The holiday season makes us miss our childhood, yearn for what “used to be,” and feel a little melancholy. It’s just one holiday after another: Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, and New Years Eve. It doesn’t matter what you celebrate, it’s all hard.

Surround yourself with people who love and care about you, and go easy on yourself. Don’t judge yourself for feeling “blue,” and give yourself time and space to come to grips with your situation. It will get better. I promise. Time does help, you learn to live with the pain, and eventually, make peace with your loss. I know it’s not easy.

If you know someone who is going through this, reach out to that person. Show you care. Open your heart and your home, and help them get through this holiday season. Everyday they live without their loved one is hard, but a holiday season is an especially difficult time.

Find meaning each day,


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  1. Paul Jones on December 3, 2015 at 10:57 am


    I remember the first Thanksgiving after Dad passed. Now 7 years later, I think I miss him more on an average day than during the holidays.

    The main thing is they stay with us!

    • Dara Kurtz on December 3, 2015 at 6:58 pm

      They stay with us, you’re right!

    • Dara Kurtz on December 5, 2015 at 2:44 pm

      They do stay with us, and that is a true blessing. Thanks for sharing.

  2. Charlie Massler on December 4, 2015 at 8:29 am

    Early New Year’s morning 1964, I lost my Mom. I had known this would be the end point since shortly before Thanksgiving of that year. Tough. Scary for a 15 year old only child. The years that followed were difficult on those special days. I, too, am glad that time heals the pain and softens the scars.

    Thanks for the share, Dara.

    • Dara Kurtz on December 5, 2015 at 2:48 pm

      I’m sorry to hear what happened to your Mom, and to you and your family. I know that was a very scary and painful time for you, especially being 15 years old. She would be so proud of the man you are, and the Husband, Father, and Grandfather you became. She’s smiling down on you. Thank you for sharing.

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