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Dealing with grief during the holidays

By Heather Beyer Published: December 24, 2012

The month of December is filled with dazzling lights, gift shopping, cookie baking, singing and laughter.  

The holiday season is a time of joy, but can also be a time of sadness when having to celebrate without a loved one. 

Psychologist Nancy Berns said on, “those empty chairs at the table are usually more visible during holidays. A loved one who has died recently—or many years ago—is still dearly missed.”

Stow Mayor Sara Drew is one of many people spending this holiday without a loved one. 

"I will be having a very quiet holiday season with my family and friends," Drew said. “Our family experienced the loss of my father this summer, and since this is the first holiday season without him we all agreed that we would have low-key celebrations this year.”

Drew added, “Truthfully, under any circumstances I couldn't think of any better way to spend the holidays than by having the chance to spend time with my daughter, other family members and friends. “

The holiday season is nearly over. This time of year brings families together to celebrate and remember, but for some there will be an empty chair at the table. 

Berns offered some suggestions to help make the celebration of the season a little easier without a loved one.

“Give a gift of remembrance,” she said. “Say the name of the one who died. Ask to hear stories about him or her. Share your own stories. Make a memorial ornament. Create a tradition in memory of the loved one.

“We long to remember and love those we miss. There is nothing wrong with that,” Berns said.