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There Will Be Tears at Christmas

For some, there will be tears at Christmas, and this is okay.

The holiday season doesn’t feel festive for everyone. For some, it’s a rough time of year. If you’re feeling sad or even dreading the holidays, this post is for you.

Some might say, there she goes again writing about loss, grief and tears during the holidays.

Why be such a Debbie Downer?

Maybe even you, Dear Readers, wonder why I choose to write about this topic every year. Nobody wants to talk or even think about loss, grief and tears this time of year.

I find the opposite to be true; many people do want to talk about these things this time of year.

In fact, many need to talk about these things. I get emails regularly from people wanting very much to talk about these things during the holidays. The reason is quite simple. Loss, grief and tears don’t take a break during the holidays.

There will be tears at Christmas.

Of course, it’s not just grief and loss that continue. All one has to do is turn on the news to know there is no reprieve from bad things happening this time of year. And lately, the news often feels worse than usual. A lot worse.

On top of that, perhaps you’ve recently been diagnosed with cancer. Perhaps you’re undergoing harsh and scary treatment right now. Perhaps your loved one is. Perhaps your future feels very uncertain, for whatever reason. Perhaps you’re missing the old you. Perhaps you’re missing a dear one.

There will be tears at Christmas.

The holidays can be an emotional time for those who grieve. This is true for me as well.

For example, when I decorate my tree with ornaments that each tell a story, I remember each one and yes, I grieve, too, as I remember.

There will be tears at Christmas.

On Christmas Eve, I will remember that Christmas Eve. The Christmas Eve when we received the devastating news about my mother’s rapidly advancing metastatic disease. It’s been ten years. Ten years since that Christmas. It still feels like yesterday. I will never forgive you, Cancer, for being so cruel at Christmas.

There will be tears at Christmas.

I think about how Christmas feels different now – now that I have no living parents. Christmas is not the same and never will be again. This is just a fact.

There is still tremendous joy in my heart during the holiday season, but there is also tremendous sadness. Sometimes, I still miss my dad (and my mother, too, of course) so much it’s startling.

Of course, there will be tears at Christmas. How could there not be?

There will be tears at Christmas.

I think about the many families who are experiencing excruciating grief and sorrow this Christmas.

Ilene’s family. Liz’s family. Lori’s family. Kristie’s family — just to name a few newly added families now familiar with the kind of grief metastatic breast cancer delivers.

And there are so many other families who grieve. Perhaps your family.

There will be tears at Christmas.

The holidays are about joy, celebrating and happiness, but this doesn’t mean they cannot also be about moments of sadness, grief and tears. It doesn’t have to be all one without the other. There can be joy. There can be tears.

There will be tears at Christmas.

There is nothing wrong with honoring your grief by feeling it. No one should feel guilty about grieving during the holidays or during any time of year, for that matter.

There will be tears at Christmas.

If you’re grieving, don’t feel badly about feeling moments of joy either. It’s okay to feel sorrow mixed with joy and likewise joy mixed with sorrow.

If you are struggling with a new diagnosis, harsh treatment, fear and uncertainty, missing a beloved dear one, grieving for things as they once were, or if you’re just not feeling the joy for whatever reason, don’t beat yourself up about it.

There will be tears at Christmas.

Honor your true feelings by allowing them to flow through you.

Perhaps then you can feel at least a bit of joy as well.

Yes, there will be tears at Christmas.

And tears at Christmas are okay too.

Note:  Grief can feel very lonely, but others do understand. This post, Grief & the Holidays, Ten Tips that Might Help – might be helpful for some, so I’m tucking it into this one. And this one, Twelve Tips for Getting Through the Holidays After Loss. If you’re grieving, you’re not alone. Others care about you. I care about you.

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Who are your tears for this Christmas?

Are you struggling due to any reason this holiday season? If yes, feel free to share about it, if you want to.

Do you sometimes feel guilty about feeling sad during the holidays? 

There Will Be Tears at Christmas & that's Okay #grief #loss #christmas #holidays #family

Terri Hollister

Sunday 24th of December 2017

I like those words. May 2018 be kinder to you. I lost my mom, my best friend, in May of this year. I knew the holidays would bring challenges, but I am overwhelmed with grief. I want December to be over. I miss her so much. She was the reason for the season. Her partner, is till in her home, which make it's own grief as I go over often to visit him. I see my mom everywhere. I know I am not alone, but the sadness hurts into the core of my being. Thank you for providing this forum. Both of my sons are out of state for the holiday which is also a first. My husband is a great support, but I still feel alone. The pain has to lessen.


Saturday 30th of December 2017

Terri, Your grief is very fresh and raw, so it's understandable you just want December to be over. You aren't alone, for sure, but I also know this fact doesn't help much. Grief is a lonely thing. The intensity of your pain will one day lessen, but it will never go away. I always remind myself that grief is love. How could there not be tears? How could there not be heartache? Thinking about you and all those who grieve. Take care of yourself. And thank you for sharing.


Tuesday 12th of December 2017

Thank for this post and the ones you included at the end. This year has been very difficult. I lost my precious Daddy in May, my Mom was diagnosed with Alzheimer's, my home was flooded from Hurricane Harvey and now I have been diagnosed with breast cancer. I am usually a "holiday elf", this year I am struggling. I am trying to stay positive and count my blessings. We are not back in our home, nothing feels "right"


Wednesday 13th of December 2017

Kelly, Gosh, it has been a rough year for you. I am very sorry you've had so much loss. No wonder you are struggling. Be kind to yourself and don't worry about all that holiday "doing". I love the way you put it, nothing feels right. Now could it? Many of us understand. May 2018 be kinder to you. Thank you for sharing.

Beth Gainer

Saturday 9th of December 2017

Hi Nancy,

Your post really hit the mark. It's a real reminder that the holidays are filled with joy -- and often sadness. People are missing their dearly deceased loved ones, and some are spending their first Christmas without them. I don't want to sound like a Scrooge, but I dislike the holiday season in general because the general message society gets is "be happy" and "be joyful," but that's opposite to how many people feel.

For me, it's Chanukah that there will be tears for. My first holiday without my aunt frantically calling me and asking what presents she should get Ari. I miss her so much, Nancy, and for the first time in a long time, my heart is truly broken. Whenever I'm in the mood to call her (we spoke often), I'm reminded that I can't.

I especially like this line of your post: "If you’re grieving, don’t feel badly about feeling moments of joy either." I'm having a real problem with guilt lately. As you know, my dad is not faring well. So I feel guilty about enjoying aspects of life. Yesterday, Ari and I went to a ceramic studio to paint our chosen ceramics -- it seems all the rage nowadays -- and it felt so good to paint, and I was joyful. Then I thought about my dad's suffering and felt I had no right to experience joy in the face of his slow, painful demise.

Anyway, your post is spot-on and much-needed during this holiday season. Thank you.


Sunday 10th of December 2017

Beth, You don't sound like a Scrooge at all, and you're certainly not alone in how you feel about that societal message and pressure to be happy and joyful, no matter how you are really feeling this holiday season. I'm sorry you have to go through Chanukah and every other day, month and season without your dear aunt. It's so hard. Luckily, the memories and the love are forever. You're going through so much now with your parents' situation too. I really feel for you. You don't need to feel guilty about feeling joy though, of that, I am sure. You'll likely feel many emotions all jumbled together this season and for quite some time as well. You're not alone, my friend. Thank you for sharing.

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