Festivals & Grief – How do we navigate this?

We are entering the time of year which used to be my absolute favourite. With the setting back of clocks my heart would frizz with excitement because that there was SO much to look forward to.

The darkness drawing in early signified that Divali (the Hindu festival of light) was on its way, that soon after that everything would be enveloped with the warm glow of Christmas. Both of these festivals to me signified lots of family time, beautiful food, laughter, family traditions and rituals and just generally made me feel really warm and full of glow on the inside.

This year it feels different, so very very different.

This year I want to pull the duvet over my head and wait for it all to pass – I likened it in my journal to looking at a juggernaut head on and feeling powerless at what I fear it will bring. ALL the emotions, all the pain and all the yearning.


I miss my Dad.

I don’t want to do any of this without him. I cannot imagine doing any of this without him. My heart feels like it’s in a vice at the very thought of it.

The things I will miss…

Seeing his face light up, so childlike and full of wonder at the fireworks and his big booming laugh when a rocket would go astray.

Sitting with him in the prayer room and conducting all the religious rituals for Divali, watching his big soft gentle hands conducting pooja, his melodic voice gently chanting mantras and prayers made even more magical by the beautiful scent of jasmine and incense. I’ll miss his phone calls reminding me of what I had to do at home to ensure we saw in a happy and peaceful year.

I will miss his storytelling.

I will miss visiting the temple with him on the start of the Hindu new year, he would be all dressed up and absolutely beaming with his family in tow.

At Christmas his name will be missing from the secret Santa draw this year, his unopened present from last year, there will be an empty seat at our table, and a huge hole in our hearts.

Another First. Another panful first. Oh. My. Heart.

Perhaps you are also struggling with the thought of Christmas, Divali or anything else this year? My deepest, most heartfelt compassion to you – this stuff is hard.

I also reminded my heart in my journalling this morning ‘we can’t go over it, we can’t go under it, we must move through it’. Yes it will be hard, but as Glennon Doyle reminds us “we can do hard things.” But no pushing through, with gentleness, self compassion, with ease, grace and emotional honesty.

Below are three ways you can navigate this festive season without betraying your heart and honouring the grief you feel.

Ways to Navigate Festivals, whilst Remaining True to your Heart

  1. You Get to Choose

There is a lot of pressure, both from external sources (well meaning friends, family, marketing & media channels, social media) and perhaps the pressure you may be putting on yourself to prove you are ‘strong’ or ‘you are getting on with your life’. Acknowledge it by all means, but don’t bow to it. You get to choose. If it feels good to continue with things the way they have always been done because it brings you comfort, please go for it. Do however, create space to honour the difficult parts, you are allowed because everything you feel is valid.

If however, you choose to do things differently because your heart feels too fragile and the pain is still so raw, it’s okay! There really is no right or wrong

2. Create New Traditions & Rituals

It’s so painful & deeply damaging to push through anything whilst internally our hearts are breaking, often we don’t want to show anyone how we are feeling for fear of upsetting them. We end up putting on a mask of pretence for the world because we perhaps fear judgment or want to avoid unhelpful comments.

I suggest bringing an element of emotional honestly in here. Acknowledge the absence of your loved one, create a new tradition or ritual where they still remain a part of the day forevermore. Perhaps sharing stories about them, lighting a candle in their honour, inviting someone who is spending a festival on their own to fill that empty chair, donating the gift you would have bought them to charity, buy a meal or a bed for the night for a homeless person – perhaps you already do this? I would love to hear more and how this makes you feel.

3. Things to Remind Yourself

The way you feel is normal and natural, there is nothing wrong with you. You are grieving and you are allowed to.

Your grief, the way you feel and will be experiencing it is unique and let that be okay – there is no right or wrong way to do this.

It won’t feel this way forever, you will never forget your loved ones but when you honour your emotions you heal. You are then able grieve fully, carry them in your heart and eventually live fully.

For me, I won’t be celebrating in the traditional way we have done. Just this year I will quietly remember my Dad and I will light a lamp for him, for all those who also lost their loved ones to Covid – I will say a prayer “May the light we so need in these dark times of grief find & lighten our hearts”

Sending love and hope to your heart. If you need support with moving through & healing from any type of grief and loss please email me on dipti@diptisolanki.com

Dipti xxx

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