Handling the Holidays After the Death of a Spouse

The holidays are often the most difficult time of the year for a grieving spouse. Dr. Heidi Horsley talks with Beverly McManus about how to deal with the holidays following such a tragic loss in this special Open to Hope webinar. McManus serves on the board of directors for the foundation and lost her husband when he was 43 years old. For the past seven years, she’s been a bereavement facilitator. A popular speaker and writer on the topic of hope and loss, McManus is also a marketing executive. She lives in San Francisco with her two daughters.

Knowing what to expect during the holidays can help prepare you to better handle them. This time of year will never be the same again, but you can help control the transformation. It’s normal to feel numb or like the holidays are surreal. You’ll be figuring out how to fill roles, like who plays Santa Claus. However, missing that loving intimacy that the holidays bring forth is what’s most difficult for many bereaved spouses.

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year?

Eventually, you’ll learn to accept that this time of year can bring a different kind of joy. The holidays can bring back so many memories of loved ones, good and bad, and all of your senses will always remember details that you forget during other times of the year. That first initial joy can make you feel guilty—letting go of the pain is not the same as letting go of those wonderful memories.

While well-meaning people will say your loved ones would want you to be happy, the heart doesn’t want to listen. McManus says you can help the process by taking control of your time and commitments. Set aside time each day during the holidays to grieve and remember.

Beverly Chantalle McManus

More Articles Written by Beverly Chantalle

Beverly Chantalle McManus serves as Vice President and on the Board of Directors for the Open to Hope Foundation. She has over 25 years of experience as a marketing executive for professional services organizations, including some of the world’s largest legal, accounting, health care, consulting, architecture and engineering firms. She has edited and co-written numerous published books and professional articles across a range of topics. After the death of her husband Steve in 2003, she began focusing on grief and bereavement support, and for the past 13 years, has been a bereavement facilitator, and core team member of the Stepping Stones on Your Grief Journey Workshops. She is a frequent speaker and writer on the topic of loss and grief, and is one of the featured writers for the Open to Hope website, for which she publishes a regular column. She has served on the Board of Directors of the San Francisco Waldorf School and is active in community, arts, and civic enhancement initiatives. She and her two daughters reside in the San Francisco Bay Area.

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