Dealing with Grief over the Holidays!

I’m a witness that grief is never easy over the holidays. I’ve been silently struggling for the last 15 years holding in my thoughts and feelings about my grandparents (mother parents). Most people would have thought that was unhealthy, but for me, I saw it as my coping mechanism.

The first three years after they passed were pretty hard, especially around Thanksgiving and Christmas. My grandmother past on November 17 and my grandfather passed the following month, December 14. I will never forget either day. It always feels like it was just yesterday, and I’ve been a living a dream all these years. But after about the fourth year, it became something that I just silenced. I didn’t want to feel anything and I definitely did not want to talk about it. As the years passed, I grew to be more comfortable with talking about it. Even this past weekend, I’ve found myself talking about why I would not apply to the new hospital in Fairfield County, and actually discussing the real reason.

So, I’ve jumped a little far into the story, so let me start from the beginning…

My Testimony 

I remember November 17, 2003, almost like it was literally yesterday…because it started out as a normal day. At this time, I was still in elementary school, and after school that day, I did as I would normally do and that was going to my grandparent’s house. They decided right before my mom got off that needed to go grocery shopping and they wanted to go before it got too late so we all piled up in the car and headed towards Winnsboro Walmart. We shop got a piled of groceries and even got all of our favorite, pork skins. We hopped on the road and was heading back home. On the way back home, they were to drop me off at the church for choir rehearsal before they headed home. As we drive, we talking, laughing and eating pork skins. I took off seat belt for a quick moment to grab more skins onto my napkin to eat and before I knew it, we were stopping in the middle of the road, and the last thing I heard was my grandfather saying “hold on”, and BOOM! A car just hit us head-on. I was thrown underneath my grandmother seat. My grandfather was moaning from pain and I heard nothing from my grandmother. Thankfully someone was traveling behind us, and she was a nurse. She got me out the car, called 911, and check on everybody else. I was terrified. I was shaking. And I just wanted my mom. I was so young, so I expected everyone to be okay but they were not. I was told to call my parents and informed them that I was in a car accident and that they needed to come to the scene right away. I did not expect for my whole world to turn upside down in a blink of an eye. My grandmother died on the scene (which I didn’t know about at the time). My grandfather, the other driver, and myself were transported to the hospital. I spent a couple of hours there to checked out but I came home in no time. I was blessed to have been alive. I had on no seatbelt. I was thrown underneath my grandmother seat and all I walked away with was a bump on my head.

All I keep hearing everyone saying was that I was blessed. God gave me a second chance for a reason but during that age, I was lost and confused.  I didn’t know what all that meant exactly and I just wanted my grandparents around. I don’t remember the day exactly they told me I would not see my grandmother again but from the way everyone was already acting, I could tell that something bad was wrong. My grandfather was still in the hospital in ICU. The night of the Christmas Production became another nightmare for me. I was pulled in my Pastor’s office with my parents, and they had explained to me that my grandfather had just passed.

During all of this, you would have thought I would have been a mess but honestly, I didn’t shed one tear. Shock? Shock me too! I don’t know if it had hit me really but  I definitely knew what was going on. I would see people crying, and I would just walk up to them and say “It’s okay, they’re in a better place”. It was not until both funerals were over, and I had to go back to school….that it all hit me! I actually cried.


I probably was not myself for a while, but who really knows. I did receive counseling for about a year or two after everything and that really helped. As time went on too, I learned that the driver was not in a stable mind as they said but I think that was just another phase as describing that she was either intoxicated or asleep. I didn’t even really question it. I didn’t want to question it. I was upset though and not sure with whom at the time but now I know it was God. It was simple. He allowed me and the other driver to still walk the face of this earth, but my grandparents were gone. Their passing changed me so much and I don’t even feel like it was for the better. I was not a social butterfly. I did not like getting sympathy because it would just make me cry. I wanted to stay to myself. And I didn’t want to let anybody out of my sight that I cared about. I was just scared.

I started having dreams maybe months later of them coming to me in my dreams. It was like I was seeing their faces and I could reach out and touch them. It freaked me out. I slept in my parent’s room for a while but I was still having those dreams. As I think about it now though, I get it. The dreams were God way of allowing me to know that my grandparents were watching over me. They were my guardian angels and that they were still with me.

Dealing with Grief

Honestly, it’s no true way to deal with grief. Everyone copes so differently. I know for me year round and around the holidays, I would use these methods as a way to get through:

  1. I wrote everything that I was feeling down in a journal. It helped. I was able to talk to someone that wasn’t there about how I was really feeling. It was my outlet.
  2. Seek counseling. Counseling helped in more ways than I thought. It wasn’t that I was unstable, I just needed the push to get through. I enjoyed it, and it wasn’t just all talking either. I was able to do different activities to help me think, and cope with losing someone.
  3. Support from others. Having that stable support in your life after you lose someone is needed. You need someone there to remind you of the great times you had with the person you lost. I know I did, and it helped. I was reminded all the time that I was my grandparents favorite (lol).
  4. A gooood laugh!!!! You never want to feel like you can’t have a good time especially right after you lose someone. It gives yourself some balance. It takes you back to remembering all the good times you had with that person, especially around the holidays.
  5. Getting out of the house. Go out and be social even if it’s just with family. You around people that are feeding you good energy at that moment.
  6. Continuing the same things you did with them. It’s hard to do! You don’t want to do things that they would normally do with you around the holidays but it’s actually a good coping mechanism. If the family would always get together when they were here, it’s good to keep that going especially for the first five years….it helps everybody.

These are all just simple ways to deal with grief over the holidays when you are missing someone. It may not work for everyone but it never hurts to give it a try because losing someone close to the holidays or not being able to spend time with them during the holidays is hard. It may even be the only time that it hits you harder.


Merry Christmas, and Happy Holidays!!!



Shanavia Bates



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