Navigating the Holidays after the Loss of a Loved One - New Year’s Eve

Navigating the Holidays after the Loss of a Loved One - New Year’s Eve

The final installment of the Holidays after Loss series is New Year’s Eve. For many, the New Year signifies a new start...resolutions are made, diets are started, and the mistakes of the previous year are forgotten. It is a celebratory day, filled with parties and food and drink, unless you are grieving. For those missing a loved one, New Year’s Eve represents another year of grief and sadness.

My apathy for New Year’s Eve actually started way before Liam died. I was a bartender in Chicago in my early 20’s, and working NYE was a requirement. We all called it “amateur night” and knew it would be a long night filled with demanding, and often stingy, party goers. After I got married and started a family, New Year’s never really gained any points with me. Those with young children will agree that staying up until midnight loses its appeal when the children are up at 6am the next morning. The first New Year’s Eve after losing Liam was the worst out of all the holidays for me. It killed me that time was still moving, a new year was starting, and we were entering a year where my son was not alive. I still can’t really explain the desperate, irrational feeling I had that I was leaving him behind. I hope some of these ideas can help you with your grief this New Year’s Eve.

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. Did you bake cookies? Maybe you watched a favorite movie or the NYE show together. It is common after loss to avoid memories or actions that remind of us our loved one, but often it is a time to feel closer to them despite the pain. 

  • Create a new tradition. Sometimes the best medicine for grief is doing something completely different. It could be as easy as seeing a movie or show, spending a night in a nearby city, or even taking a vacation. This is a great opportunity to rest your body and mind, and you can still include your loved one on your trip by bringing a picture, piece of clothing, or anything that reminds you of them. 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.” Though it is easier said than done to let go of guilt, this is a beautiful way to begin.

  • Avoid alcohol and drugs. For many, alcohol can magnify the already intense emotions of grief and depression. Other experience exaggerated anger. No matter how alcohol affects you, 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 is usually a time of reflection on the past year and looking forward to the next. However, when grieving, the last thing we want to do is let go and move forward without someone we love. No matter how much time has passed since your loss, the holiday season can be a difficult and lonely time. I hope that you have found some ways to include your loved one in your celebrations and wish you peace and comfort in the days ahead. How did you make it through the holidays without your loved one? Let me know below!


Back to blog

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.