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Dealing with the Holidays and Other Stressful Event Days During the Year

Two things to think about:

  1. The year of firsts for holidays and other special days.
  2. How will you go on?

Holidays and other special days we remember or celebrate are always important times in our lives. In our grief however, this speciality can transform into especially painful and difficult. Particularly during our “year of firsts”, our grief is often expanded and opened wider and somehow made more unbearable at these times.  In some ways, how we deal with these events can set the stage for how we proceed through our early grief and be a strong part in how we eventually make the transition to healing and wellness.

Special days:



Other special holidays

Their passing day (remembrance day)

Their Birthday

Your birthday


Valentines day

Family weddings

Kids/grandkids birthdays

Veterans Day

?? Others

There are two times during our grief journeys when these special days come up, the first time and all the rest of the times.

There is only one first time for each event! It’s usually the most intense and poignant.

We all have our firsts to deal with. We all have to go through each trial and each “special” day without our loved ones for the first time in a very long time and we have almost nothing to hold on to or cling to but memories as the waves begin to rise and try to sweep us away. 

In some ways, the “firsts” are like storms that arise on the sea of our grief.. the waves get higher, stronger and more frequent, and the winds try to knock us to our knees. But, the storms eventually recede and leave us stronger for their passage through our lives.

Someone sent me a message a while ago that had the old adage in it, “this too shall pass” and I include it here as a reminder and a message of hope. As Jerry said, “the first days are the hardest days”.

So take some time to think about it, to find out how you feel and if you have been there to share with others ways we have learned for making it through the “year of firsts” and especially through the holidays and other special days during that year. It’s also about sharing ideas for how we can grow, adapt and find peace on those days going forward. 

A question we might ask at this point too is: Can the anticipation of the first time be worse than the actual event itself. If you have been through the “year of firsts”, which was more difficult, the time leading up to the event or the event itself?

What’s next:

How do you want to go on, especially after the first time. Let’s use the questions below to talk about how we want to go forward.


  • What are your feelings about experiencing your first of any of these days to come or how did you feel if you are past that point. 
  • Do (did) you want to avoid dealing with them the first time or would you rather meet them head on or do some of both (struggle or surrender) ?
  • During your year of firsts if you’ve had one, what turned out to be the most difficult day for you? Why?
  • ** Do you want to hold on to old traditions, break old traditions, make new traditions, do nothing at all? Would you rather it changed each year and adapt what you do to each season and holiday to fill your changing needs and wants.
  • What do you plan this year? Is it different or the same as in the past?
  • ** How can you also respect and possibly meet the needs of others of your family and friends who may be very strongly grief-filled as well. What if their needs are different than yours. Can you, should you, will you compromise?
  • Do you have any guiltabout wanting to change things or from actually making changes? If so, how will you or are you dealing with it?
  • ** If you choose to change, how can you find your own (new) ways of honoring the holidays and other special days that fill your new needs.