Holiday Blues

Jeff Olson —  December 20, 2012 — Leave a comment

The holiday season is normally my favorite time of the year, but not so much this season. While much of the world celebrates the “most wonderful time of the year,” I’m often feeling blue, hurting inside over losing both of my parents this past year.

What I’m finding as I go through this first holiday season without Mom and Dad is that the things I’ve loved my entire life (Christmas music, decorations, family gatherings) are often painful triggers that remind me that my parents are gone.

Thanksgiving was rough. I cried as we drove over to a family member’s house for dinner and felt down throughout the day.

Christmas won’t be any easier. There will be no phone calls wishing each other Merry Christmas. No gifts to exchange. No “I love you’s.”

And when I’ve caught myself feeling festive and enjoying the season, I sometimes feel guilty. It feels “wrong” to be happy and to celebrate when they are not here.

Guilt tells me I should just be sad.

The truth is I am sad—for good reason. But I’m also happy. Though there are times I may need to feel one more than the other, God has been teaching me that it’s okay to feel both. Both can coexist in me.

There are no exact rules to follow as we grieve the loss of those we love, let alone go through the first holiday season without them. We each have to figure out our own way. For me, giving myself permission to experience both sadness and joy has been a part of finding my way through this season of grief.

Jeff Olson

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eff is a licensed professional counselor in the State of Michigan and has worked for Our Daily Bread Ministries as a counselor and a writer since 1992. He has authored a number of Discovery Series booklets ( on such topics as addictions, grief, depression and marital abuse. He also maintains a part-time private counseling practice in the West Michigan area. Jeff and his wife, Diane, have been married since 1986 and have raised two lovely daughters. He is an avid outdoors man who also enjoys sports, music, boardgames, books, and movies.

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