VCU RamStrong Well-being blog

Giving VCU employees the wellness resources they need to be healthy both on and off campus

Holidays are filled with joy, right? Sometimes they can be just the opposite, especially if you have lost a loved one.
You may want to join in festivities, but if you don’t that is fine. Set boundaries by listening to yourself and your readiness. Be kind to yourself and understand that whatever you are feeling is OK. Plan ahead to fill any roles that may need to be changed to avoid unnecessary grief. Holidays can be complicated, even without loss, so seeking professional services may be helpful. You may also consider some of the following ideas to help throughout the holiday season.

Rose in snow Photograph by Cheryl Cencich
  • Honor old traditions with new memories
  • Create new traditions, perhaps in honor of your loved
  • Volunteer—helping others brings you joy as well
  • Put out a ‘memory stocking’, ‘memory box’, or another special place where you and others can write down memories you treasure. Pick a time to read them together.
  • Light a candle in your home in memory of the person you’ve lost.
  • Include one of your loved one’s favorite dishes in your holiday meal or make a dish that your loved one used to make. Don’t get discouraged if you try to make their dish and you fail.
  • Buy a gift you would have given to your loved one and donate it to a local charity. If you are feeling really ambitious, adopt a family in memory of your loved one. This can often be done through a church, Salvation Army, or Goodwill.
  • Pick a few special items that belonged to your loved one and gift them to friends or family who will appreciate them.
  • Make a memorial ornament, wreath, or other decoration in honor of your loved one
  • Send a holiday card to friends of your loved one who you may regret having lost touch with.
  • Play your loved one’s favorite holiday music.
  • Skip holiday events if you are in holiday overload. Don’t feel guilty about skipping events if you’re experiencing holiday overload!
  • Pull out old photo albums and spend some time on the holiday looking at photos. You could even create photo table with photos of your loved one at holiday celebrations in the past.
  • Have a moment of silence during your holiday prayer/toast for your loved one.
  • Remember, it is okay to be happy – this doesn’t diminish how much you love and miss the person who isn’t there this holiday. Don’t feel guilty for the joy you do find this holiday season.

Taken from CommonHealth’s Wellness Wednesdays.


VCU Human Resources will be having a Loss, Work, and Life during COVID-19 panel on Wednesday, January 12th, 2022 at 11 am. We have all been impacted in one way or another during COVID-19. Panelists will share experiences and tips on managing loss, work, and life through the pandemic. More details to come.

Grief and Loss – Brunswick Uniting Church

If you have experienced loss during COVID-19 and would be interested in being on the panel, please contact Cindi Phares at for more information.

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