• Terrell Whitener

Grief Loss and the Upcoming Holiday Season

Updated: Sep 23, 2019

Strategies for Getting Your ARMSAround It Early

Before you know it, the holiday season will be upon us. For individuals that are in a season of grief the holidays can be a most difficult time of year. It may be even more difficult for those who are experiencing this season for the first time without a loved one. In this article I would like to offer a few thoughts that you may consider as you navigate this most uncertain time. I refer to it as taking the ARMS approach to surviving the holidays during the season of grief.

A: Acknowledge Your Feelings. Though this may seem obvious, we must realize that grasping a solid hold of this cognitive realization is paramount to your self-care. A successful approach must respect that your personal and genuine feelings will allow for the most palatable experience through this most difficult time. It is normal to feel the need to be strong for others and it is your right to feel the need to “hold it together” for others. But the day is 24 hours long and there will be plenty of private time to sort through your actual state of mind.

R: Remember the Good Times. As part of the periods of reflection, always remember to add in memories of the good times. The arguments over the Christmas tree, the heavy-handed pouring of the liquor that “was just to add a little flavor” to the recipe at Thanksgiving can go a long way at times like these.

M: Make at Least One New Memory. One of the most difficult endeavors to undertake is[TW1] to introduce some measure of change. Though difficult to do, I highly recommend adding one new activity or memory to this season. It could be as simple as inviting friends for dessert or drinks after the family Christmas meal. Or preparing dinner for friends who may not have family to celebrate with. Though the initial thought may seem daunting, you may find that it may help you navigate this time a bit easier.

S: Save a Place for Sadness. It would be foolhardy to think that honest reflection will not include times of sadness. To those who are experiencing their first season or seasons after losing a loved one it is expected. Finding a place for sadness is a responsible and honest emotion to manifest. It is an exercise that will make this time bearable.

So, there we are. Strategies for Getting Your ARMS Around it Early. I wish you nothing but the best in navigating the upcoming holiday season.

Terrell L. Whitener is a St Louis based Author and Speaker. His book The First 365 “Learning to Live After Loss” is available through You can also contact Terrell at

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