Silhouette of three family members at beachThe holidays can be challenging enough with all the stresses of travel, meals, gifts and dancing around sensitive topics. But the game changes completely when someone that is usually there, isn’t.

This topic came to mind because my family is still trying to figure out how to get through the holidays. In 2016, our oldest daughter graduated moved away to college. That situation’s fairly easy; we just fly her home for the holidays.

The game changes completely when someone that is usually there, isn’t.

It made me wonder how families cope when a family member can’t fly home; for instance, if they can’t afford it, or if they’re deployed overseas. Incarceration and divorce pose unique challenges as well.

Unfortunately, we lost both of my wife’s parents in 2016, too. That’s not so easy, especially since they were an integral part of our Thanksgiving and Christmas celebrations. It’s all still fairly new to us, and we’re trying to move on.

This year, we’re hosting my sister and my wife’s brother (both from out of town) for Thanksgiving to change up the routine a little. They’re both single and trying to cope with their own losses as well. We’re loading up the long Thanksgiving weekend with activities and trying to stay busy. For Christmas, we’re actually planning a few days at the beach in lieu of exchanging a bunch of gifts that nobody needs.

I have no doubt that the absence of our loved ones will be on all of our minds this holiday season. What I’m not sure of, is what sort of emotions will be stirred up.

How do you get through the holidays when you’re missing someone?

We’d love to hear from you. Please share your tips in the comment box.