The holidays bring grief to an all new height for those who are suffering from losses or struggle with depression, anxiety, chronic illness or other such disorders. This newsletter is for those who suffer and for those who love them.

If it’s a merry Christmas for you, please take a moment to forward this, or print it off the article and give to a friend or family member in need. This will be an action-based holiday survival guide. Let’s begin…

1. PLAN AHEAD – Don’t allow the holidays to simply happen. Plan ahead for the best outcome.

2. PERFORM AT YOUR ABILITY – Accept your limitations and don’t beat yourself up for not having the Christmas you think you “ought” to have.

3. CUT OUT OR CREATE NEW RITUALS – If specific rituals are too painful, leave them out this year. Add a new holiday ritual.

4. ASK FOR HELP – Reach out to others for help shopping, cooking, wrapping etc.

5. VOCALIZE YOUR NEEDS – Tell folks you’re struggling. Be specific about how they can help.

6. BE HUMAN – You may assume things will be fine, and suddenly a song brings back memories… then pain. Feel the pain. Tears are an honest expression of love and sadness. It’s okay. It’s also okay to shift plans in the moment if needed.

7. MEMORIALIZE YOUR LOVED ONE – Make a donation to a charity in honor of your loved one who has died. If you’re depressed, make a donation to mental health research through NAMI.

8. TALK ABOUT THE DECEASED – It’s healthy and normal to tell stories about the deceased.

9. KEEP GOOD COMPANY – Choose to be around folks you feel safe and comfortable with during the holiday season.

10. BE WARY OF QUICK FIXES – Folks who hurt are particularly vulnerable during the holidays. Watch out for alcohol and drug abuse, over-spending etc.

11. PRACTICE GUIDE – Make a list of all the gifts your loved one brought to the world. Keep these close by. Or make a list of all things you’re grateful for in your life.

12. BE GENTLE WITH YOURSELF – Practice the love towards yourself that Christ taught us. Please allow for your humanness, for fluctuations in your mood. If you are suffering, you’re working with much less physical and emotional energy than most. Remember, grieving is nature’s way of healing mind, body and spirit. Allow yourself access to grief, while your wounds heal. You’ll be up and running again when it’s time. May God’s healing arms wrap you up throughout the holidays.

Dave Turo-Shields

Publishing Guidelines: The author grants permission to publish this article electronically or in print, free of charge, as long as the resource box is included with a live link to his site. A courtesy copy of your publication would be appreciated.


  • Dave Turo-Shields, ACSW, LCSW is an author, university faculty member, success coach and veteran psychotherapist whose passion is guiding others to their own success in life.

    For weekly doses of the web's HOTTEST success tips, sign up for Dave's powerful "Feeling Great!" ezine at his web site,