Q. I lost my only daughter this past Jan. 2011—she was only 38 years old and left 3 young children. They do not live close to me. Christmas is coming up and I don't know how to get through all the joy of others. I do not want to be a downer to my other family members. I am married, but my husband is going through his own grief. Suggestions?

A.

I am so very sorry for the loss of your only daughter, and at such a young age. Your grief, especially as you face the one year anniversary of your daughter’s death, is understandably intense right now and needs proper attention and care.

You are not a “downer”—you are experiencing grief and that is real. This is a time for you to do whatever you can to take care of yourself. If you feel like crying, pardon yourself, and go have a good cry. Take the time and space you need to feel whatever comes your way and as much you are able, protect yourself from those who might place unrealistic expectations on you or judge you. Trying to force yourself to be happy might cause you additional stress, so try not to do anything you are not comfortable with; remember to pay attention to your feelings and internal reactions, and be gentle with yourself right now.

In order to take good care of yourself, consider identifying trusted friends and family to share your concerns with. If there is anyone you can confide in, call upon them to become your “shepherd” in helping to guide and support you during this difficult time. You might also come up with a “script” or something that you can say that feels authentic when people ask how you are doing, such as “this is a difficult time, but thank you for asking.” Making room for your grief during the holiday season may help you to feel less pressure, and hopefully allow for moments of peace, solace, or even joy that may come your way as you remember your daughter and spend time with your loved ones.

For additional guidance, please read our fact sheets, “Grief and Healing With the Loss of a Loved One” and “Helping Children Who Have Lost a Loved One.”

If you would like some additional support, please do not hesitate to call our Hopeline at 800-813-4673. You can speak with a CancerCare oncology social worker who can provide support, guidance, and resources.