Navigating the Holidays after Loss - New Year’s Eve

Navigating the Holidays after Loss - New Year’s Eve

Navigating New Year's Eve in the aftermath of loss is like tiptoeing through a minefield of memories and emotions. The promise of a fresh start, resolutions, and celebratory vibes feels hollow when you're missing someone dear. My indifference towards NYE dates back to my bartending days in Chicago—what we cynically called "amateur night." Fast forward to family life, and staying up till midnight loses its charm with early-rising kids.

The first NYE without Liam was the most difficult of all the Holiday Firsts.. Time marched on, a new year began, and we entered a chapter where my son's presence was painfully absent. Irrationality gripped me as if I was leaving him behind.

New Year’s Eve Survival Guide

  • Surround yourself with loved ones. In the Halloween post, I talked about my Grief Tribe, the people who have walked beside us in the years since Liam died. These friends and family members have been a part of every birthday, angelversary, and holiday since our loss. Their presence comforts us because we know that they miss him too. We feel safe to be ourselves with them, to cry, to laugh, to talk, or to be silent. 

  • Continue a family tradition that you used to have with your loved one. Baking cookies, watching a cherished movie—embracing shared rituals keeps the connection alive.

  • Create a new tradition. Sometimes, a change of scenery is the best medicine. A movie night, a getaway, or a spontaneous vacation can provide respite for body and soul. Bringing a memento keeps your loved one close. Many hotels offer special pricing and events on New Years Eve if you are looking for a distraction.
  • Put your regrets to the fire. I saw this on What’s Your Grief, and it’s probably one of the best things I’ve read for grief in a long time. Many grievers struggle with regrets or guilt in regards to their loss. “Start a holiday tradition of lighting a fire, writing down your regrets from the past year, and then throwing your regrets into the fire to symbolize a fresh start.” Guilt may not easily dissipate, but this gesture offers a sense of release.

  • Avoid alcohol and drugs. Alcohol can be a magnifier of grief's intensity, so it is probably best to avoid mind-altering substances after loss. If it begins to become overwhelming, try this grounding technique or meditation for help finding peace.


New Year's Eve, typically a time of reflection, becomes a delicate balance between honoring the past and cautiously stepping into the future without our loved ones. Despite the passage of time, the holiday season remains a challenging and lonely stretch. My hope is that you find ways to weave your loved one into your celebrations and that peace and comfort find you in the days ahead. 

Do you have any suggestions to add for others? Comment below. If you enjoyed this series, I hope you will join my email list for weekly grief support advice and details of upcoming specials.


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1 comment

I lost my son, Justin, on April 21 this year. I just wrote on his obituary page that on this last day of 2022 I feel that I am somehow leaving him behind. I just found your article and appreciate that I’m not alone in my feelings about New Years. Thank you. Joanne

Joanne Salt

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