The joy of brightening other lives, bearing each others’ burdens, easing other’s loads and supplanting empty hearts and lives with generous gifts becomes for us the magic of Christmas.
-W. C. Jones

““I have not put up any Christmas ornaments for the past 19 years. Never! What for when my family is not here. I cannot enjoy Christmas without them,” a bereaved parent once said.

He is not alone in his feelings. It is difficult to celebrate what once were beautiful, happy days. I remember how my husband dreaded Christmas day, the first without our son. He didn’t like to see the Christmas tree but I placed it anyway because I had two girls looking forward to Christmas day which has always been a joyful day to celebrate. I am thankful I opened my heart to my children and allowed them to help me embrace Christmas that year. In doing so, we renewed our strength and spirit together and we found the courage we needed to go on and enjoy life. It wasn’t the same reaction with my husband. It took him five more years to let Christmas come back to his life. And that was the year he learned that life can become good and whole and complete once again.

Why does Christmas or the holidays just make it difficult?

While most of the world seems to be addressing holiday greeting cards and planning holiday menus, the bereaved are struggling with other concerns: HOW LONG DOES GRIEF LAST? WILL THE HOLIDAYS ALWAYS BE THIS AWFUL? WHAT DO WE DO WITH THE EMPTY PLACE AT THE TABLE? WHAT IS THERE TO BE THANKFUL FOR THIS YEAR?

For many, Christmas is a special time of year. Although pretty packages and twinkling lights are the window dressing for this exciting festivity, it is the warmth and love of family and friends that make the holiday season so memorable. It can be a painful time for those experiencing the recent loss of a loved one.

I know there are others out there feeling similar losses.

If you are facing Christmas alone for the first time, I encourage you to reach out to someone you trust and share your feelings with them. Devote a place and time before Christmas Day in which you can openly honor your loved one and acknowledge your feelings. On Christmas Day, intentionally set your focus on family and friends who not only share in your loss, but who bring precious gifts of love and support to aid in your healing journey.

How To Help Yourself Through The Holidays


At this time you will be acutely aware of the voids in your life. You may find yourself wishing to go straight from December 24 to December 26; it is hard to continually hear Christmas carols playing and people saying ““Merry Christmas”, or to see the perfect gift and realize the person is no longer alive to enjoy it.

Here are some suggestions that may help to make your holiday season a little easier.

1. Family gatherings may be extremely difficult. Be honest with each other about your feelings; sit down and decide what you all want to do for the holiday season. Don’t set expectations too high for yourself or other family members on that day.

2. There is no right or wrong way to handle the day. Some people prefer to follow family traditions, while others decide to change them . It may help to do things just a little differently. Remember, what you choose to do this time can always be changed next year.

3. Be careful of “shoulds” it is better to do what feels best for you and your family, not what you or others think you should do. Give yourself permission to not do things. Once you have decided how your family will handle the holidays, let others know.

4. Do the Christmas preparations that you enjoy and look for alternatives for those you don’t. For example, this year you could buy baked goods, let others bake for you or do without.

5. Holidays are tiring; get lots of rest. You will need every bit of your strength.

6. If you decide to decorate your home, let children, other family members or friends help you. It’s okay to do something different, or to do no decorating at all.

7. How do you respond to “Merry Christmas”? You could say ““best wishes to you” or ““thank you”. Think of how you might answer ahead of time.

8. For Christmas dinner, you may decide to visit relatives or friends this year. If you have dinner at home, try changing the menu, the time or the room. You may want to be involved in preparing the meal, or not.

9. Be gentle with yourself and don’t expect too much. If you cry, don’t let that ruin the day for you. It may allow others to grieve and feel sad on a “happy” day.

10. Consider cutting back or not sending Christmas cards this year. It is not essential to send cards, especially to those people you will see over the holidays.

11. As the holiday approaches, share you concerns, feelings and apprehensions with someone. Let them know what is difficult for you; accept their offers of help. Holidays often magnify feelings of loss; allow yourself to experience the sadness that comes.

12. Christmas shopping can be upsetting and it may help you to shop early, to shop by telephone and catalogue, or to take along an understanding friend. Family may be willing to shop for you if they realize how difficult this is for you.

Often, after the first year of bereavement, people expect you to be ““over it”… will never be ““over it”. However, most people do find that eventually they are able to enjoy holidays

I wish I can tell those who have lost a loved one this message, “May you find hope and peace and ways to remember the life of your loved one, not just the death. May Love be what you remember most”.

Source for “How To Help Yourself Through The Holidays”
From Victoria Hospice, British Columbia


In this modern and gadget-obsessed era, many people have learned the art of playing with words and using them to their advantage. How can you not become skillful with words in a time when you cannot escape a day without sending text messages, updating our social media status and expressing ourselves in 140 characters on Twitter? But all those words are meaningless without the appropriate action.


Words, no matter how eloquent have no bearing when they are not accompanied by gestures. In a relationship, words are important but you cannot depend on them alone. Of course, it feels good to hear your significant other say “I love you,” “you mean the world to me,” “I’ll do anything for you,” “you’re my everything” and so on but if that person constantly lets you down and hurt you, then those words may seem ironic.

Words are music to the ears but they should always be supported by actions. In order to mean what you say, you have to prove it with gestures. The virtual world is bombarded with sweet nothings but in reality, happiness highly depends on what you actually do. After all, actions speak louder than words.

Many complain that their partners are not vocal about their feelings. It’s a blessing to have someone who can express his/her feelings in words and gestures. Sometimes, you can’t always have the best of both worlds. If you have to choose, would you rather be with someone who showers you with sweet lines but disappoints and makes you cry or would you rather choose a person who doesn’t say much but who is always there for you and fulfills his/her promises? If you have good sense, you know you’re better off with the latter.

A relationship starts with exchange of words but in order for it to grow and develop, you need to nurture it with the right actions. Simple deeds can outweigh words. Don’t worry too much if your partner is not generous with his/her words as long as you feel that you are loved. Here are some day-to-day gestures that express affection without the need to say the words aloud.

Introduction to family and friends – You know you are special to a person when he/she introduces you to his/her family and friends. It’s a gesture that may indicate that he/she is serious about your relationship and thinking of building a future with you.

Shirley was ecstatic the day her boyfriend introduced her to his family. They have been together for a year and a half when her boyfriend invited her for brunch at his parent’s house. Shirley took it as a sign that their relationship is for keeps.

Physical display of affection – A simple and random display of affection such as giving you a tender embrace, kissing you on the cheek, holding your hand, or putting an arm around you show that your significant other wants to be in close proximity to you.

Weng, a stay-at-home mom is married to a hardworking regional sales manager of a big company. He is always on the road. They have been married for eight years now. Her husband is the quiet type but what he lacks in words, he compensates in action. Although he rarely says “I love you,” Weng feels loved because he never fails to kiss and hug her the moment he wakes up and every chance he gets whenever he is at home.

Taking the extra mile – A person can express his/her emotions through his/her behavior. He/she may go out of his/her way to cheer you up, give you advice or offer you a helping hand.

Gloria fell in love with Frank because of his genuine kindness. She remembers the time when torrential rain caused city-wide flooding. She and her sister were stuck at home because of the flood. Frank bought pandesal, bottled water and a few canned goods to bring to Gloria and her sister. Frank walked for more than an hour carrying the goods because many of the roads were impassable to public and private vehicles. Frank waded in filthy water. He disregarded his own health and safety just to get to Gloria. There was a nagging fear in his head that he might get injured by falling in a manhole or stepping on something sharp or worse something rusty. Thankfully, he arrived at Gloria’s apartment safe and sound. Little did he know that on that day, he won her heart.

Symbol of love – You can express how much you value the presence of a person in your life by giving him/her a symbolic gift.

Bernie gave his girlfriend a promise ring as a sign of commitment. The promise ring is also a pledge of love and faithfulness. It was like a pre-engagement gesture to show his girlfriend that he sees his future with her.

Showing remorse for mistakes – Being sorry goes beyond words of apology. It means making an effort to correct the problem and setting things right.

Alfred’s infidelity almost destroyed his marriage. The thought of losing his wife and children made him realize the gravity of what he has done. When his wife found out about his affair with another woman, she threatened to leave him and take their children with her. Alfred held his wife as tight as he could. She struggled to break free but he refused to let go. When his tears began to fall, his wife stopped and looked at him straight in the eye. It was the first time that she saw him cry. He has always been a strong and brave person. He is not easily moved by difficult situations unlike most people. But that moment, Alfred felt all his strength and courage escape him. He knew he had broken his wife’s heart. He wanted to apologize and beg her to stay but the words couldn’t come out. Alfred broke down. After his emotional release, he was able to talk to his wife.

He learned from his mistake. Rather than making promises, Alfred showed his wife how much he values the second chance she gave him through his actions. He severed all forms of communication with the other woman. He keeps his mobile phone in plain sight. No more secret text messages and calls. He now makes it a point to go home early. Alfred knows that it will take time for his wife to trust him again but he will keep trying.

Photo c/o Pixabay. Public domain.

Written by Ma. Rachel Yapchiongco , as published originally at Walk your (loving) talk, Philippine Online Chronicles.