The Christmas season can be a stressful time for many. There are many causes including loneliness, holiday shopping, drinking too much alcohol, not exercising, overindulging at holiday parties, dismal grey weather and missing a loved one who is no longer with us. I also have lost loved ones – both of my parents are now gone, and two of my brothers, one of whom was my best friend. Christmas just isn't the same without them. Despite the many fond memories, I still miss them dearly and even more so around holidays.

If you're suffering from the sadness of losing a loved one, you might find it useful to try one, two or a few of these coping skills to deal with it. These suggestions were given to me, and now I am now passing them on to you:

Allow yourself time to cry. It is entirely okay to weep. Crying may bring immediate sadness. Afterwards, you will usually feel better. I can honestly say that I feel better after a good cry. You may choose to watch a sad movie to help open those tears. One of my favorite movies is "A Walk to Remember” or “Where the Red Fern Grows.” Both are heartwarming stories about losing a loved one. Sometimes it's easier to release your emotions through someone else's story even if it's a fictional one.

Choose to spend time with the people you love and who love you. I love snuggling on the couch with my grandkids while watching a good movie. So, gather up the family and do something you enjoy together.

Go outside, go inside, go to the mall, go somewhere to exercise. I can't even begin to touch upon the numerous studies and articles about the health benefits of exercise. It's the most underused "medication" for depression. And it's FREE! Just do it.

Eat healthy and drink extra water. It's easy to put on a few extra pounds around the holidays. Nothing feels worse than waking up feeling bloated. Treat yourself, but don't overindulge.

Opt to say “Cheeeeezzzzeeeeee” (smile). I had a lady friend who shared with me that she remembered going through a breakup back in her student/waitress years. Since she relied on tips to pay the rent, she couldn't afford to be sad. In fact, she didn't even tell anyone at work about it. No one likes a grumpy waitress. So when she went to work, she put a smile on her face, and you know what? She actually began to feel happy.

Look around and appreciate what you have. It can be gone tomorrow. Don't lose time away from the people you love. Create new traditions and happy memories that you can cherish. Yes, it’s okay to be sad. Recognize the sadness, embrace it as the memory of your loved one, and move forward living the life you have left. Say “Cheeezzzzzeeee,” laugh, and enjoy the holidays!

John T. Catrett, III, northeast Oklahoma Hospice Chaplain, has ridden more than a few roller coasters (literally and metaphorically) in this lifetime. He's on a lifelong journey walking in the joy of Lord while in the midst of sorrow, bathing in the light of the world in a dark society, and loving the adventure of it all. John counsels the bereaved, befriends the hurting, and shares the possibility of freedom with those who have almost given up on life, satisfaction, fulfillment, or happiness.