Another Holiday Without Them: Managing Grief Years After a Loss


Grief doesn’t come with a timeline. Many people we talk to here at Krause Funeral Homes in Milwaukee, New Berlin, and Brookfield wish it did. But as anyone familiar with grief understands, some days are harder than others. Some years are harder than others. There are breakthroughs and setbacks, unexpected triggers and resolutions. While grief doesn’t have an end date, it should look different as months and years go by. The hope is that feelings of peace and positivity will slowly reemerge.

Often, holidays present unique and especially difficult challenges for those who have experienced a loss, whether the funeral was recent or years ago. There are questions like, “Who’s going to bake the pies now that Grandma is gone?” “Who will go shopping with me like Aunt Susie used to?” “How can I celebrate without my husband by my side?”

Our Krause team knows that memories of good times and togetherness often magnify a loss, regardless of how long it has been since the death of a loved one. Watching others who are excited and joyful can be deeply painful if you’re overwhelmed, lonely, or sad. Special meals, gifts, and parties only serve as reminders of how much life has changed.

We’ve put together the following tips to consider if you’re having difficulty as the holidays approach:

Think about your expectations. Remind yourself that this year is going to be different. Can you handle the responsibilities and obligations you’ve had in the past? Or would it help to lighten your load? Setting healthy boundaries for yourself is a step in the right direction.

Take care not to isolate yourself. It might seem easier to stay home from a party, skip church, or avoid places where you know you’ll run into friends or neighbors. While it’s okay to allow yourself some solitude, try to find a balance so you don’t end up “canceling” the holidays altogether.

Create new traditions. When a loved one dies, holiday rituals and traditions may be painful rather than fun or comforting. This year, think about new activities you could be part of or new rituals you could enjoy. There are so many festive opportunities all around Milwaukee County. Maybe this is your year to try something different!

If you’re feeling “stuck” in your grief, there are many ways to receive the encouragement you need, like speaking with a counselor or someone else experienced in grief support, such as a pastor, priest, or rabbi. We’ve been helping families in the Milwaukee area for more than 80 years now and have many connections and numerous resources available. We also have our grief therapy dog, Bennie, on hand to offer comfort and bring a smile. Don’t hesitate to reach out to us for help.

If you’re struggling after losing a loved one – or maybe someone close to you is grieving and you’re concerned about them – we can help you find the support you need. Contact us today.

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