Coping with Grief and Loss During the Holidays

As the well-known song lyric goes, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year . . .” But when a loved one has died; the merriment and festivity of the holidays often serve as painful reminders of all that is lost. Many on our staff here at the Woodlawn Cemetery can relate, as we too have experienced the deaths of cherished friends and family members over the years.

If the death was recent, there may be questions like, “How can we celebrate at a time like this?” Or, “Who will bake our favorite pies now that Grandma is gone?” Many who are grieving wish they could skip the season altogether.

If it’s been years since the death of your loved one, nostalgia has a way of bringing back feelings of sadness or loneliness. It’s the empty chair at the dinner table; the beloved traditions that take on a melancholy tone; the family photo that seems incomplete without your loved one in it. Maybe it’s a reminder of better days when that special person was with you.

At Woodlawn, we have a long history of walking alongside Bronx-area families who have experienced loss, and we always remind them that the healing process takes time. You can’t rush grief, and there is no one-size-fits-all way to manage the complex emotions that surface – sometimes unexpectedly.

We always say to keep this in mind: It’s okay to feel pain. It’s okay that you don’t feel like your “normal” self. Losing someone can be devastating with far-reaching effects. This time of year can be especially overwhelming.

If you relate, please know we’re here for you. Let our caring staff come alongside you when you need it.

If your loved one is laid to rest here at Woodlawn, we encourage you to stop by and visit them, and even think about making this a new tradition. You might be surprised how much comfort this brings you as you reflect on memories and focus on what this special person brought to your life.

While on our grounds, take time to stroll the 400 beautiful acres. Spending time outdoors, among the trees, in our sanctuary in the city offers a sense of healing all its own. Our Arboretum features more than 375 unique tree species, including five specimens identified in the “Great Trees of New York City” program. During a stressful time in life, getting away in nature – even for an hour – may be exactly what you need to refresh.

This holiday season, it’s our hope that you’re taking steps toward healing, while remembering that grief has no timeline. Regardless of where you are in the journey, know that we are here for you and only a phone call away.

We take our role in helping the families of New York very seriously – during times that are challenging and those that are full of joy – and we hope you’ll turn to us however and whenever you need us. In the days and weeks ahead, our Woodlawn team hopes you can focus on what matters most: the people you love.