Coping with Loss During the Holidays

Last Modified: December 22, 2010


Dear OncoLink "Ask The Experts,"

My sister passed away a few months ago and I was her caregiver. She was only 38 years old. I am devastated still and do not know how to cope with the Holiday season that is approaching.


Tracy Lautenbach, MSW, LCSW, Social Worker in the Radiation Oncology Department at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, responds:

The people around you might not recognize the depth of your grief when you lose a spouse or a child, and may not be providing you with the support you need.

The holidays are a time for giving, so give yourself the gift of acceptance. Acceptance not so much of the loss, but that the grief you are experiencing is one step in the healing process. It is natural that thinking about and remembering your sister at this time brings pain and sadness. Do not fight this. If you need to cry, do so. Do not hide yourself away with your grief. If your grief is shared, it is somewhat diminished.

Remembering your sister on special occasions is also a way to honor her.

Tackle what you feel you are up to doing during the holidays, but take care of yourself and have others respect whatever limits you may place.

This question and answer was part of the OncoLink Brown Bag Chat Series. See the entire transcript: Surviving & Thriving During the Holidays Webchat.


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