Holidays can be difficult when someone you love has died. Or you’ve lost your job. Or an important relationship has ended. Or if you’re not sure of your purpose. Or experiencing several of these simultaneously! It can be hard to watch others being joyful and merry while your life feels joyless. You may need to be more intentional about your plans this year.

Here are 5 innovative ways you can get through (and maybe even enjoy them).

  • Light a candle. Engage in a meaningful ritual. Set aside some intentional quiet time to think of your loved one (and your life). Perhaps write a letter letting him or her know what you miss the most this year. And what you are most grateful for. You can even ask what he or she would have you know. Be ready to receive an answer!
  • Giving back gives back. Giving back can transform you, your community and your life so that you can experience more abundance, joy and meaning every single day. It can also remind you that you are not alone in your feelings of hopelessness. There are other people who are struggling and in need of some help. Consider serving a meal at the homeless shelter, giving a donation (in honor of a loved one), or inviting someone else who is alone to share in a holiday meal or festivities.
  • Get out in nature. There is a restorative power in nature and reconnecting with the natural world is the key to good health. Research shows that spending time in nature can promote physical health, mental acuity, and emotional enhancement. Nature reveals the cycle of life and a connection with it ignites a sense of meaning and wonder so profound that it touches the very core of what it means to be human.
  • Less small talk, more genuine conversation. Consider investing in a card game, like Vertellis Holiday Edition, that actually brings people closer together. With screen time increasing daily, talking about what matters can be grounding and hopeful. It may become a new tradition!

Vertellis Holiday Edition is a card game that you can look forward to playing every year during Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Eve, or a casual get together. Vertellis means “tell me more’ in Dutch and through questions that trigger memories and stories, you will get to know those closest to you in a new (deeper) way.

Use your imagination. Every year we are given the opportunity to start again and this year is no exception. This is the perfect season to set an intention for the coming New Year. What is one thing that would make your year great in 2019?

Take some time to ponder this question, write it down, and then tell one person your intention. Send it out into the universe! Start now visualizing your intention coming true. Come back to your imagination whenever you like and see your intention happening. Add juicy details. Now pay attention to your surroundings and look for opportunities to make it happen.

Good luck and keep me posted at



Heidi Gessner

Heidi Gessner, MDiv, BCC, BCC, is an Ordained United Church of Christ Minister who serves as the palliative care chaplain and bereavement coordinator of University of North Carolina Hospitals, a level one trauma center. As the bereavement coordinator, her main priority is connecting with the family members who have had a loved one die in the hospital. Her specialty is connecting with these family members, staff, as well as community members, and helping them feel they are not alone. For in her deepest suffering after her father died, she experienced the presence of Love. She was so overwhelmed by this sense of a benevolent Presence, it changed the course of her life. The awareness of being cared for and connected to something bigger came suddenly, and helped her want to share this feeling with others. Heidi is also a certified life coach, who creatively cultivates hope, nurtures growth, and encourages people to be good stewards of their grief, and to learn from it when they are ready. She helps them harness the transformational power of loss to become their wisest and most compassionate selves. Heidi is also a wedding officiant at

More Articles Written by Heidi