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Lin Sue Cooney: How to cope with grief during the holidays

Lin Sue Cooney

Arizona Republic
October 28, 2017

Losing someone you love isn’t a one-time hurt.

Grief has a way of sneaking up on us. Just when things seem to be getting better a familiar song, a whiff of perfume, an old photograph can innocently trigger a memory. Instantly, we’re pierced with pain.

Coping with such loss is even harder during the holidays. What used to be a festive time of decorations and parties — laughter and togetherness — now seems meaningless. We’re paralyzed by the thought of shopping and socializing. How can we continue old traditions like nothing has changed?

Because everything has changed.

There is no miracle pill to take away the pain. No magic wand that restores the sparkle of the season. But grief experts say there are ways to survive the holidays and celebrate moments.


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Honor the old and create the new. No matter what you do, the memory of your loved one will be with you this holiday season. Find a way to honor and acknowledge that while creating new family traditions to share going forward.

Set limits. Let everyone know that you will not be over-doing, over-shopping, over-cooking, over-pleasing or over-worrying this year. This is not a time to be a perfectionist. Accept help when it’s offered.

Plan ahead. Don’t be afraid to say no. Choose activities that will make the holidays enjoyable for you. Do a few special things with a few special people, not everything with everybody. It’s essential to nurture yourself during this vulnerable time.

Grief is not something to be conquered alone. And if you are struggling, we can help. Comerica Bank and Hospice of the Valley are hosting a community event in Scottsdale on Nov. 8 to help grieving families cope with the holidays.

There is no cost to attend, but please register online at Hospice of the Valley.

You may also find comfort at Hospice of the Valley’s annual community remembrance event celebrating the lives of loved ones who have died. Light Up A Life will be held under the stars at Steele Indian School Park on Sunday, Nov. 19. The evening features a photo montage set to beautiful music and projected against the night sky. This no-cost event is open to all.

And after the holidays have come and gone help is still available. Hospice of the Valley provides no-cost grief support to anyone in the community. Groups meet Valleywide at varying times and locations.

Although it’s true that life will never be the same it’s also true that people do heal after losing a loved one. It doesn’t happen quickly but recovery is ahead. It isn’t easy, but you can find hope and happiness again.

Lin Sue Cooney is director of community engagement for Hospice of the Valley. She was a newscaster at 12 News for 31 years.