“Just last year I felt on top of the world during the holidays. My job was going well and I was anticipating a promotion. Life was good, until I was laid off.”

” He didn’t get diagnosed until after New Years. Suddenly we were plunged into uncertainty and fear. The promise of the New Year changed to dread. Now I’m a widow of 5 months.”

Our Christmas gathering last year was filled with love, warmth and joy. It was so great being all together. We were the picture of harmony. Then my husband left me.”

The cycle of our year has returned again to December, a time of holiday celebrations and family gatherings. Holiday cheer is everywhere. Messages of Peace, Light, Love and Hope abound.

However, for those who are struggling through job loss, bereavement, divorce and other major life transitions, this time of year can be especially difficult. The feelings of grief, anger and loss become heightened in the midst of being surrounded by the hustle, bustle and sparkle of the holiday season.

Here are some steps that can help soften the impact and also open the door to finding comfort, healing and personal meaning.

1. Plan Ahead – With love and acceptance for where you are in your transition, think about what your needs are. Adjust your plans around what you feel ready and up to doing.

2. Gather Your Support System Around You – Who do you feel most comfortable with, those friends and loved ones who can understand where you are. The gift of time with them can be soothing and healing.

3. Create Loving Boundaries for Yourself – Thin about what you feel ready for and what you do not. Large groups of people might be too overwhelming, while a small intimate gathering would be comforting. Know that it is okay to set time limits for yourself. Short visits are better than staying beyond what you are ready to handle.

4. Help Others – If you feel ready, give of yourself by volunteering to help others.

5. Nurture Yourself – Honor and allow yourself to feel whatever comes up for you. Then send love to those emotions and notice the healing. Choose activities that you enjoy and feel connected to. This could be in the form of a walk, meditation, music, reading. It is just for YOU!

In your time of transition and loss, holidays will be different. By creating a sacred space for yourself within that difference, your healing begins with faith, strength and hope. This is the special gift you can give to yourself.