Managing Your Grief at the Holidays

Temple Israel Cemetery - Photograph courtesy of ShadowCatcher Photography, LLC/Lori Prashker-Thomas

You can’t ignore that it’s holiday time.  You walk down the street and see Christmas and Chanukah decorations, you hear Christmas music in stores, people are shopping and getting ready to celebrate.  Meanwhile, I sit and wish that my mom, dad, mother-in-law and sister (all Of Blessed Memory) were still here to share in the joy with me. Chanukah is not the same, especially since my dad passed away in January of 2017.  And the new year doesn’t offer a break from grief, with three yahrzeits in January and my parents’ anniversary in February. 

Recently, I have had discussions with people that the first year after someone’s passing is not the hardest because you are still dealing with the grief of the death of that loved one.  It’s the second year that feels the most difficult because you realize that the loved one is truly gone. However, to me, it seems that the holidays get harder each year. 

I try to remember the good times, the stories, and even some of the gifts. I even light the menorah my mom used,  but the happiness and joy just are not there for me. I try to put it all behind because I have a beautiful granddaughter, an amazing husband and my sisters to celebrate the holidays with but I still feel the sadness, angst, and loneliness. I find it difficult to figure out how to maneuver through the holiday season.  

I have found comfort in the words of Rabbi David Wolpe, a contemporary American rabbi, who writes in Making Loss Matter: Creating Meaning in Difficult Times, “There is no magic answer to loss. Nothing, not even time, will make the pain completely disappear. But loss is transformative if it is met with faith. Faith is our chance to make sense of loss, to cope with the stone that rolls around in the hollow of our stomachs when something we loved, something we thought was forever, is suddenly gone.”   

I keep going back to his thoughts about loss and I turn to my faith to guide me through and hope that there is a better tomorrow.  Whatever holiday you celebrate, just know that if you are feeling that angst, that sadness, you are not alone. Take comfort in G-d, your friends and family and feel their love. 

About the Author
Lori Prashker-Thomas is a Jewish Birth Mother, who advocates for other Jewish women, both as a speaker and writer, as well as an advocate for those who have suffered or continue to suffer from Ludwig's Angina, Rheumatoid Arthritis, and other illnesses. Lori is also Owner and Officiant at Ceremonies by Lori and is Co-Owner of ShadowCatcher Photography with her husband, Michael W. Thomas.
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