“We wish you a merry Christmas. We wish you a merry Christmas. We wish you a merry Christmas and a happy New Year!”

When you are grieving the words bear an almost impossible fantasy. How can it be a merry Christmas when my loved one has died? And the New Year will bring a new year, but one that bears no connection to the years that have come before.

Journeying through the holidays, especially your first holidays after a loss, is trial by fire. Nothing is certain. Not your feelings. Not your thoughts. Not your responses to either of those. Your life really feels like it is not your own for you seem to have little control over it.

And that is the truth. Grief has overtaken you and it is not something that you can control. But it is something that you can manage.

First recognize that the holidays for this year are different, completely. So what happens this year is confined to this year. It will be a snapshot of your life this year with something different to be discovered next year. So maybe you don’t put up a tree or decorate or send the Christmas letter with the year’s activities. That is okay. Release the stress by acknowledging the uniqueness of this year alone.

Many of us worry about what we are going to feel or how we are going to react when it is time to open presents or gather for the countdown to the New Year. Therefore, anticipate those feelings by putting some thought into what you are going to do at that time. In what manner will you remember that person in that moment? Will you have a picture of him with you? Will you set aside a moment during the celebration to speak her name? Will you and the others gathered speak a memory that points you forward toward how you will carry them with you in the future?

These examples are positive ways to engage with your grief in the difficult time presented by holidays. They are ways that help heal that great wound which is the death of the person you miss. Try something and let us know what worked for you.