Check out these additional resources for books, media, blogs, and online support.
Surviving the Holidays
When you’re grieving it may seem impossible to feel anything but sadness and longing for your loved one during the holidays. Acknowledge that this year will be different, and it will be tough.
Prioritize and Plan: Decide what traditions you’d like to keep and what ones you may want to change. Will it bring comfort and stability to continue with holiday traditions, or would it be better to do something totally different this year? Maybe your family could start a new tradition in memory of your loved one. Either way, make a conscious decision about how you’ll spend the holiday. Just because you change traditions once, doesn’t mean you can’t go back.
Communicate and Compromise: Make sure everyone agrees about how you will spend the holiday this year. Not everyone in your family will grieve the same way as you. Be honest and talk about it. You may have to compromise.
Be flexible at the holidays and have a backup plan. You may feel strong enough to try something, but when you get there and feel differently, you may need to change the plan. Changing your mind is okay! Say to your friends and family: “You don’t have to understand how I feel, but I’m asking you to accept it.”
Remember and Reminisce: How is your person going to be remembered? (Light a candle, have a toast, leave an empty chair at the table, share funny memories, etc.) Yes, it can create sadness, but acknowledging it means that you don’t have to pretend or hide behind a smile. Ask the kids or grandkids – how would you like Grandpa, Mom, Uncle, etc. to be remembered? Their ideas are super creative!
-Rest is important. Make time for it.
-Grab on to joy moments as they come – it doesn’t diminish how much you love and miss the person who isn’t there.
-If it causes you stress, ask someone else to cook the dinner or buy the gifts. It’s difficult to ask for help, but it’s important and can be a big relief.
-Sit by the people at the family gathering who are supportive.
-Be cautious of people who want to tell you what you “should” do for the holiday. Listen to yourself, trust yourself, communicate with your family, and do what works for you.
-Avoid too many holiday cookies and/or alcohol. These can become fast friends when we are grieving. If the holiday party is too much, head home.
-Make it a guilt-free holiday – Don’t feel guilty about skipping events this year if you’re feeling holiday overload! You can also skip (or minimize) decorations if it’s too overwhelming this year.
Holiday Articles and Books on Grief
How to Inform a Child of a Death
Suggestions and tips for appropriate ways to talk with a child about a death.
Grief in the Workplace
Here are some suggestions and ideas to appropriately handle grief in the workplace.Printable Resource>>
Helpful Suggestions for Parents
Find a compiled list of suggestions for parents and guardians to keep in mind when guiding a child through their grief.Printable Resource>>
12 Steps to Encourage Your Broken Heart
Written by our dear friend Ginger.Printable Resource>>
Misconceptions in Grief
Many people believe these things to be true about grief...but they aren't. Let's get educated!Printable Resource>>
The Mourner's Code
Did you know that as a griever you have these 10 rights?Printable Resource>>
Online Grief Communities, Blogs, and Podcasts
24/7 Support Group for Suicide Loss Survivors
The Dougy Center’s Podcast
Online Community for Child Loss
Support for Men Grieving Loss of a Spouse
Grief Support Blog
Online Community for any Death Loss
For Victims of Drunk and Drugged Driving
Pregnancy & Infant Loss Support
Support for any Death Loss
Support for Loss of a Twin
Interactive Grief Forums
Resources for Widows
Q & A Column on Grief and Bereavement
Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors
Support for Children, Teens, and Families
For parents and other co-victims of homicide
Candid Conversation about Grief
For Teens Who Have Lost a Parent
School & Community Toolkit
Support for Dads after Death of a Child
Find Help for Grief and Addiction
Resources for Widowed Parents
Written by Grieving Teens for Grieving Teens
Online Grief Community
Borrow a Book
Books are another great way to gain insight from those who have been where you are. Many of these books for adults, teens, and children are available to borrow at a Sytsema Location! Contact Keri (231-855-6688) to check availability. However, these are great books to have on hand and read more than once, so feel free to follow the link to purchase your own copy!
On Grief and Grieving
Elisabeth Kubler-Ross and
If there is a grief topic that is not included in this book – I don't know what it is. From regret and relief to possessions of your loved one and holidays, this book has it covered. Insightful, theoretical, and practical all rolled up in one.
Passed and Present: Keeping Memories of Loved Ones Alive
Passed and Present is a one-of-a-kind guide for discovering creative and meaningful ways to keep the memory of loved ones alive.
A Grace Disguised
This book is especially unique in covering the interweaving of trauma and faith. The author's practical, no-nonsense approach to grief can be applied to many of our stories and radiates hope for the griever in a platitude-free manner.
Grief is a Journey
Dr. Kenneth J. Doka
In this “volume of rare sensitivity, penetrating understanding, and profound insights” (Rabbi Earl A. Grollman, author of Living When a Loved One Has Died), Dr. Kenneth Doka explores a new, compassionate way to grieve, explaining that grief is not an illness to get over but an individual and ongoing journey.
Harold Ivan Smith
Filled with wisdom and fueled by common questions from grievers, Harold Ivan Smith, well-known for his seminars and books on grief, explores the difficult questions that we're all wondering.
When Your Soulmate Dies
Alan Wolfelt, PH.D
Any book by Alan Wolfelt would be highly recommended. This one in particular lays out the honest truth about coping with the loss of a spouse.
Gary Roe has walked with hundreds of widows and widowers through this painful valley. From their stories he has composed this incredibly practical work that will touch your heart and comfort your soul.
From One Widow To Another
Miriam's insights reveal her struggles and victories in the murky waters of widowhood. She offers advice on finances, how to surround yourself with wise supporters, and how to find renewed purpose and mission.
The Wilderness of Suicide Grief
This book is a compassionate guide to finding your way after the suicide death of someone you love.
Five Cries of Grief
Merton and Irene Strommen
After the tragic loss of their 25 year old son, these parents, Merton and Irene, write from individual perspectives, even as they share the same loss.
Healing A Parent's Grieving Heart
100 Practical Ideas
Alan Wolfelt, PH.D
With these constructive and feasible suggestions, parents can discover healthy ways to take action in their grief after a child dies. Wolfelt has also written 100 practical ideas for children, spousal loss, teens, traumatic death, and the list goes on.
Parting Company: The Caregiver's Journey
Cynthia Pearson and Margaret Stubbs
Each year, millions of people care for dying loved ones. This unique book shows caregivers what to expect and how to cope.
Healing After Loss
Martha W. Hickman
This book contains daily meditations that provide strength and thoughtful words to inspire and comfort those who are grieving.
Writing to Heal the Soul: Transforming Grief and Loss through Writing
Writing to Heal the Soul is not just for writers. It is for anyone who is suffering any kind of grief or loss, whether the injury, disability, or death of a loved one, the loss of a job, or the end of a relationship.
Recovering from the Loss of a Parent
A compassionate guide for individuals coping with the death of his/her parent. It provides practical ways grieving individuals can take steps toward recovery.
Granger E. Westerberg
This book identifies ten stages of grief, recognizing that grief is complex and deeply personal. It offers valuable insights on the emotional and physical responses individuals may experience during the natural process of grief.
Books For Kids and Teens
One Wave at a Time
I love using this book for kids because, in addition to the great illustrations, it gives language to feelings that are difficult for children to identify. After the death of the boy's dad, different emotions (anger, sadness, happiness, fear, numbness) wash over him throughout the day. This book affirms the complex emotions that children feel and encourages them to "surf" the waves as they come.
The Invisible String
This book doesn't use "grief language" and may not even have been intended for such, but I like how the idea of an "invisible string" connects them to their loved ones and encourages those continuing bonds. The main theme of the book is that we are never alone, so read this book to children who need to be encouraged and affirmed by that truth.
Samantha Jane’s Missing Smile
Julie Kaplow and Donna Pincus
This tender, honest story is a practical way to teach children that sharing their feelings is important and acceptable. After Samantha Jane's father dies, she doesn't want to overwhelm herself or burden her mother by expressing emotions. The author is clever about using Samantha Jane's thoughts to explain to readers that our feelings won't just go away if we try to ignore them, but taking action in our grief is when healing can begin.
When Dinosaurs Die
Laurie Krasny Brown and Marc Brown
This helpful book provides answers to kids' most-often asked questions and also explores the feelings we may have regarding the death of a loved one, and the ways to remember someone after he or she has died.
A Hug from Heaven
A Hug from Heaven is unique in that it's written as a poem of love from the person who died. The message of the book is that love is stronger than death, and it is okay to hurt and feel many different emotions as we miss our loved ones.
The Memory Box
From the perspective of a young child, Joanna Rowland artfully describes what it is like to remember and grieve a loved one who has died. The child in the story creates a memory box to keep mementos and written memories of the loved one, to help in the grieving process. Heartfelt and comforting, The Memory Box will help children and adults talk about this very difficult topic together.
A Grief Journal
The Dougy Center's first journal especially created for grieving teens. Whether a teen has experienced the death of a parent, sibling, grandparent, close friend, or other family member, this Deconstruction/Reconstruction journal is an advice-free place where teens can draw, write, paint, and transform whatever they're thinking and feeling.
Excellent for teens and adults alike, the main character experiences the loss of her mom to cancer, and walks through what the first year is like as she navigates life without her mom. The details of family life and school friendships are honest and convincing, capturing both the difficulties and the unfamiliarity of life after loss.
Straight Talk about Death for Teenagers
Earl A. Grollman
If you are a teenager whose friend or relative has died, this book was written for you. Earl A. Grollman, the award-winning author of Living When a Loved One Has Died, explains what to expect when you lose someone you love.
Watch this very worthwhile video clip about the importance of involving children in funeral services and ritual events. As parents, we want to protect our children from death and difficult experiences...but, we promise, a funeral won't hurt them! Rather, the experience is proven to be helpful in their grief process as they remember and honor their loved ones and have a chance to say goodbye.
Free E-book Downloads
Dealing With Family Dynamics After a Loss
Prevent family disputes during difficult times
365 Days of Grief Support
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The Sytsema Blog
Visit our blog to read helpful and supportive advice, tips, and articles on topics dealing with loss and grief written by the staff at Sytsema.LEARN MORE