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Holidays can magnify grief. Here are some tips for coping

A red candle burns in the dark.
Gerd Altmann
A red candle burns in the dark.

Program director Gen Nelson with the Lost and Found Grief Center shares ways to get through the holidays after the death of a loved one.

The holidays are generally a time of joy and spending time with friends and family. But what if a loved one is no longer there?

Grief is often magnified during the holidays when a person’s absence can be especially felt.

Gen Nelson, program director for Lost and Found Grief Center in Springfield, said, if you’re grieving this holiday season, be gentle with yourself.

Look at what your expectations are and maybe cut back on things you usually do.

"Are there traditions that you find comfort in? Can you continue those? But are there maybe expectations you're putting on yourself that you can let go of this year? said Gen Nelson, program director at Lost and Found Grief Center in Springfield, "So, kind of looking ahead to come up with a plan."

She suggests being around people you’re comfortable with and can be yourself around, so you can express your grief if you need to.

Maybe create new traditions, Nelson advises, such as creating an ornament or another item in honor of the person who died.

And for those who know someone who’s grieving, she suggests doing more than asking what you can do for them.

"A person who is in their grief maybe doesn't have the mental capacity to come up with a list or tell them 'I need these things' or even to reach out and ask for help," she said, "and so, kind of acknowledging — you see a need and so, it could be 'I'm going to go to the grocery store. Please send me three things that you need.'"

Or maybe you could offer to mop the floor or do another task. And, if a parent of young kids loses a spouse, ask if you can take the kids shopping for gifts.

Lost and Found Grief Center offers a variety of support groups for all ages at no cost.

Find out more at or call 417-865-9998.

Michele Skalicky has worked at KSMU since the station occupied the old white house at National and Grand. She enjoys working on both the announcing side and in news and has been the recipient of statewide and national awards for news reporting. She likes to tell stories that make a difference. Michele enjoys outdoor activities, including hiking, camping and leisurely kayaking.