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Navigating Grief during the Holidays

In just a few short days the radio stations will begin playing jolly, cheerful, holiday music. The stores are already beginning to fill with this year’s holiday decor. Bakers are baking with pumpkin spice; cooks are gathering their holiday favorites and kids are writing their Christmas lists. If your family is anything like mine, they have already started planning Thanksgiving. Shortly before Thanksgiving, Christmas will be planned. The pressure of showing up and being present all comes too fast. All the while inside we may be kicking and screaming, wishing we could avoid the holiday fair altogether.

The presence of grief during the holidays can cause one to be uncomfortable and let’s be honest, dysregulated with feelings of loneliness, sadness, depression, anxiety, and yearning. Although when looking around, you may feel like you’re the “only one”, oddly enough, you are not alone in this experience. As I draft this letter to you, my heart is heavy as I prepare to celebrate my 47th birthday for the first time without my grandmother Charlene. Her birthday is just 6 days before mine and she would have been 81. Celebrating when life has been lost seems so cruel at times. You may feel as though you are moving on without them, and that doesn’t seem fair. You are often filled with sweet memories of what you would have been doing, what they would be making/buying, and how that experience made you feel so warm and fuzzy inside. Maybe your experiences weren’t the sweetest, but you will miss the traditions and moments shared. This too is also very normal. We spend our lives loving and having experiences, death does not erase the love experience.

While our hearts may hurt, and our eyes may weep I encourage you to enter the season with this in mind:

  1. Cry, laugh, scream if you feel it. Experience those natural emotions. No need to hide them!

  2. New traditions are okay, and keeping the old ones is okay too.

  3. Let people love you but tell them how you want to be loved.

  4. Say “Yes” to the engagements that feel right and say “No” to those that don’t.

  5. Keep your loved ones present by sharing your loved experiences with others.

  6. Light a candle and hold a moment of silence at your gathering.

  7. If you desire to be alone, that’s okay, communicate openly and honestly about that desire.

  8. Wrap yourself in their clothing items or favorite blanket to feel and smell them close.

  9. Pull out the photo books and indulge in the memories, it’s good for the soul.

  10. Write them a letter or sit in nature and share out loud how much you miss them.

Whatever you do this holiday season, be true to you. Your truth deserves to be honored.


Learn more about Phelica's practice, The Grief Counselor.

Phelica Glass is a Licensed Specialist Clinical Social Worker with a successful psychotherapy

practice in Topeka, KS. Graduate of Washburn University with a Bachelor’s in Behavioral

Sciences. Graduate of Tulane University of New Orleans with a master’s in clinical social work

and certification of Gerontology. Through further education she attained a certification in Child and Adolescent Grief Counseling from the International Association of Health Care

Professionals. Phelica is a Fellow of the American Academy of Grief. She also holds

certifications as a Sex Offender Treatment Provider, Geriatric Social Work, Sex and Porn

Addiction Recovery, Suicide Bereavement and Spiritual Life Coach.

In private practice Phelica meets the needs of individuals and families coping with grief,

behavioral and emotional issues by walking with them through their personal journeys. Her

belief is that children and families transition smoothly through difficult situations when they have the necessary support to do so. 

Phelica’s unique style of therapy is both effective and engaging, using cognitive behavioral,

solution-focused, Theraplay and Parent-Child Interactive Treatment methods. She believes in

empowering the voice of her clients through motivation and advocacy.

Phelica holds various positions within the following organizations within Topeka: The Kujima

Collective, Tyson Williams Productions, Martin Luther King Living the Dream, Greater Topeka

EMBD, and Topeka Chamber of Commerce. Phelica was the Graduate Member at Large for the Kansas National Association of Social Work, and now holds the position of Ethics Chair.

Phelica is a member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc, Chi Delta Zeta Chapter of Lawrence/Topeka, KS where she currently is the Chapter, State and Regional Chaplain. Phelica has held the positions of Regional Domestic Violence Coordinator, Regional Mental Health Coordinator and Kansas Protocol and Procedures Representative. She is also a member of The Links Topeka Chapter where she volunteers in developing and implementing a teen mentoring program at Topeka High School.

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