Navigating the Holiday Season Without Your Loved Ones

Learning to embrace the grief that comes with the joy during the holidays

By Ryeá O’Neill - December 12, 2023

Coming to Terms with the Loss of a Loved One Takes Time

Grief over the loss of a loved one doesn’t just stop because the holiday season has begun. Feelings of grief can indeed become stronger during this time of year. Many have described feeling grief like the ebb and flow of the sea coming in waves, just not as predictable. 

With the heightened emotions during the holiday season, no one should feel guilty for enjoying or celebrating the moments of joy the season can bring. Equally so, one should understand grief is something we will live with our entire lives and give ourselves grace during this season, understanding that with any joy, there will also be sadness for our loss.

Leaving a Legacy Can Help with Grief

Many of our donor families tell us knowing their loved ones were able to leave a legacy and give the gift of sight to another in need gave them some consolation in their grieving journey. By their loved one saying “yes” and registering their donation decision to be an eye, organ and tissue donor, they were able to donate their corneas and restore sight for one to two individuals upon their death.

Alisha is a donor family member who found that her parents’ gifts of sight gave comfort to both her and her brother as they grieved their parents’ passing. She explains in the below video how meaningful it was for her that both of her parents were able to donate their eye tissue.


During the Holidays, Give Yourself and Others a Break

Our best advice during this holiday season is to give yourself and others a break. Be gracious with your emotions and remember you are human. It is our humanity that connects us to each other. Remember your humanity when flooded with the wide range of emotions and memories as you move through the season.
Don’t be afraid to honor what old traditions you are able to or even start new ones. Asking for support is key, even if that support means asking for some alone time for self-care.

Remember that it often takes a village to get things done during this busy time and your village may be going through similar things that you are during the holidays. Supporting others may alleviate feelings of sadness and grief for you. If so, consider starting a new tradition with family by volunteering in your loved one’s honor during this season.

Resources to Lend a Hand

Here are a few resources that you can look to for extra help during the holiday season and anytime you need a helping hand with your grief.
It’s important to take care of yourself, both emotionally and physically. You should never feel guilty for attempting to heal or even find renewed joy during the holiday season. Grief is something we must pass through when it arrives at our doorstep. Sometimes it only stays for a brief moment, and other times it stays for a long visit. ‘Tis the price we pay for having loved the ones we lost.
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