“Have a holly jolly Christmas; It’s the best time of the year,” blares on the radio and in every store I seem to walk into every December. And every December since losing Douglas, I am quickly to state… NO, IT ISN’T! Then, a few songs later, as if it needs to be emphasized, “It’s the most wonderful time of the year” comes on. Is it, though?

For a widow, new to this journey or a few decades into it, I would disagree.

The holiday season can be a challenging time for anyone who has lost a spouse. Christmas, in particular, is often associated with joy, family gatherings, and festive celebrations. However, for widows, it can bring a mix of emotions, including sadness, anger and loneliness. All valid things can be present one year and possibly gone the next. In the following year, bringing them all back again. This is part of that roller coaster ride we now travel on.

I encourage you to acknowledge and validate the emotions that come with grief during the holidays. Experience whatever you need, sitting with tears falling, listening to Christmas music. Laughing as you watch that favorite Christmas movie, you always watched together as a family. Putting up a Christmas tree or not putting one up.

It is important and okay to find joy in simple moments; your loved one would want that for you. Navigating the holiday season can be a challenge and we need to give ourselves grace. In time, create new traditions that honor the memory of your loved one.

Trying to go through the holidays alone really doesn’t work. Find those who will support you and share with them the struggle you are facing. Allow others to wrap their arms around you and help you through this season. Share memories of past Christmases.

Being aware of the reality of grief and how it alters the way we navigate the holidays is crucial to our healing. We may just go through the motions or be completely present in the moment or we may jump back and forth between them both. Realizing that is perfectly fine and healthy.

Some of the best advice I received was to set realistic expectations for myself during the holidays. Which, if I’m being honest, was hard for some years.

I gave myself permission to feel what I needed to feel and do what I needed to do. Sometimes that was sitting in my bathroom bawling as I could hear through the door family laughing and enjoying each other. Questioning if I would ever get back to that. I can reveal to you all, I have. It has taken many Christmases and a decision within myself to find that joy.

Finding new traditions may be a difficult road to travel, and uncertainty may arise not knowing what you want them to look like. For myself, I kept things as normal as I could for my three girls.

But I do have one tradition I implemented after Douglas passed; Christmas morning, my two brothers-in-law drive me to the cemetery, and we walk out to the graveside in silence. They bring a beer, sit it on the base of Doug’s headstone, and then crack one open for themselves as we stand there in the cold. Very few words are spoken as they enjoy their beer. One year, we all shared tears; one year, I quietly heard, “I can’t believe it has been five years.” One year, through my tears, I expressed how grateful I was for the two of them. For taking care of me and being the help, I needed.

I tell you this tradition because it is not a “normal” tradition; it was that first year when I knew I couldn’t do this alone, and they stepped in to take me to wish Doug Merry Christmas, and it stuck. So, as you go through the holidays looking for a new tradition, remember it may not be what you are looking for.

Understand that grieving during the holidays is a unique journey that requires compassion, empathy, and self-care.

My wish this season is that you may embrace the complexities of grief that can pave a path toward healing and discover a new sense of hope amidst the challenges of the holidays.


Love and Blessings


Jacki Corta is a motivational speaker, intuitive life, and grief coach along with the founder and CEO of Strength > Struggle™. The brand she discovered after traveling the journey of cancer with her husband. She started the Strength>Struggle™ crusade, helping others find their inner strength during some of the scariest times. In 2014, her husband, Douglas was diagnosed with Glioblastoma brain cancer and 20 months later passed away, giving Jacki a new title… Widow. It is Jacki’s mission to share her story with the world and how it can positively impact others in whatever they may face. It is a story of unexplainable strength in life’s most challenging storms, overcoming adversity and finding hope while traveling the difficult path her life took.

It is her ability to communicate and willingness to be vulnerable that connects with her clients and audiences. Jacki believes her purpose here is to impact as many souls as possible showing them that through even the darkest days there is a glimpse of light to grab onto for them to find their strength. Jacki will empower, challenge, and give you a new outlook on your own story.

She is a mother of three adult girls and a Mimi to two beautiful granddaughters. You can follow more of her story and inspiration on Instagram @jackicorta or listen to her podcast Jacki Has a Voice on Spotify.