Dealing with the loss of a friend or loved one can be difficult. It can take a toll on one’s emotional and physical well-being. I am writing this article from personal experience. I will share my tips to enduring the holidays.

I lost my beloved mother, Elender “Lady” Jones (who lived in Hattiesburg, Mississippi) on Sunday, April 28, 2019. It was a day I never wanted to come. Mom and I talked that morning after church. I had a strong urge to call her. This was unusual because we normally talked on Sunday afternoons before my swim. I followed my intuition and called her. I was excited about sharing details of my Men’s Reading Program in San Diego. I wanted her to know that the reading program event went well and plans were already underway for the 2020 anniversary of the Men’s reading event. Our conversation seemed odd. I could hear a voice telling me to pay attention to the conversation (because I did not know how long I would have to talk with mom). She did not feel like singing and I did not try to encourage it. Our conversation was sweet and memorable. She gave me advice regarding my love life. Her advice was crucial, as I wanted her to always know what was going on in all areas of my life, and her advice was sacred to me

Later that evening, I received a call from Boobie, my sister in Mississippi that mom had to be rushed to the hospital, and that she would call me back. When my sister called back, she stated mom had passed away. My world stood still. It felt like I was frozen in time. I took a deep sigh! Then out of nowhere, I remembered (what Sister Martha Featherston from San Diego said to me), “In all things, give thanks.” Those words came out of my mouth. WOW! I could not believe it. My heart was filled with gratefulness. It came out from nowhere, but it was there all along. How could I not be grateful? I was able to speak to mom the same day she passed away. This very thought put a smile on my face when though she was gone. I knew how my mother felt about death. Mom spoke many times about going to be with Mohn, my grandmother and Min. Jones, my stepfather who had passed away years before. Regardless of the sorrow in my heart, I knew she was ready to leave this world. I could not deny this. Besides, I loved my mom with all that was within me. We spent time together, and would I would sing with her as it was helpful in keeping her memory intact. I visited and called her regularly. I did my best to provide for her needs. It was well with my soul, and I had no regrets.
Now, I am left with life-long memories of mom. The ups and downs of having a mother-daughter relationship. The one thing that gave me the most comfort is that we always worked through our issues.

There are days when my grief is overwhelming. I often check to see what stage or stages of grief I am experiencing at the moment. It has been eight months and I still find myself angry at times. I went to a grief and loss support group and found it very helpful. Journaling, music and laughter as therapy are the modalities I practice regularly. They are most beneficial. The lyrics to certain songs help me to acknowledge my brokenness.

Tips to getting through the holidays are as followed:
● Acknowledge your feelings. It is ok to feel the sadness and to anticipate how you might feel during the holiday season.

● Make a decision. Decide how you want to feel. If you want to spend the holidays being depressed, be willing to own these feelings.

● Embrace Acceptance. Be prepared to accept reality. Your loved one or relative is gone. This is a fact. There is nothing you can do to bring him/her back.

● Make a plan. Decide how you want the holidays to be. Do not attend parties, events or gatherings if you do not want to go. Try to refrain from making other people happy. This is your time to grieve. Do not accept invitations to please relatives, co-workers or friends.

● Acknowledge. It is understandable that you may see others with their family members and wish it were you. You might even resent their togetherness. Do not envy them. Instead appreciate the time you shared with your loved one or friend.

● Compartmentalize. Find time to express your emotions so that you can make it through the day. On my way to work, has been a good time for me to listen to music and cry. It is best to have set times to do express yourself instead of having unplanned outbursts at work or in other public settings.

● Be Selfish. Think of the things that will bring you JOY. Nurture yourself by seeing a movie, prepare your favorite dish, take a walk in the park, watch movies, and allow time to feel those deep moments of hurt.

● Use your resources. Take advantage of groups, friends or organizations that will help you to feel better. For example, I use my prayer line to express sorrow. This allows me to grieve around others who care.

● Include memories. Enjoy past memories. Listen to music, audio recordings, look at photos or watch videos that include your loved one. Take a trip to a restaurant that your loved one and you enjoyed in the past. Allow yourself to remember the good times spent together.

● Rest. Grief is an exhausting and overwhelming process. Rest is essential in order to function while striving to navigate through life.

● Pray. Ask God or your higher power to comfort you, heal your heart and strengthen you daily. Give him your burden. Cast your cares on Him.

● Praise. Find a song or poem that will lift your spirit and to find that place of peace. It could also be a song that will allow you to connect with your feelings. One of my favorites is Healing by Kelly Price.

● Service. Put your pain to good use. Do something with your feelings. Perform an act of kindness for someone. Open the door for a disabled person, buy someone a cup of coffee, conduct a workshop or bless someone with a compliment. It will make you feel good.

● Celebrate their memory. Let your loved one or friend’s legacy live on by carrying out their dream or memory. What was their cause? What organizations did they belong? Did they give to charity? You can continue their legacy by continuing their work.

If you have questions of concerns on how to use these tips, please feel free to contact me at or (626) 531-0991

Author's Bio: 

Dr. Sonara was born and raised in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. After High School, she went onto college and graduated with a B.S. Degree in Human Ecology and a M.S. Degree in Psychology from Cameron University in Lawton, OK. She has certifications in Postponing Sexual Involvement, Microsoft Digital Literacy, True Colors, P.S. MAPP and Toastmasters International. Dr. Sonara also has an Adult teaching credential. Sonara is a former School Administrator with John Muir Charter School. Dr. Sonara completed her PhD in Expressive Arts Therapy (Psychology) at International University for Professional Studies.

Dr. Sonara is also the owner of SCB Consulting, which specializes in using Music as Medicine. Her focus is to empower individuals through personally and professionally through the arts for creative expressions. A partial list of the organizations Dr. Sonara has worked with include: Health & Human Services Agency, the U.S. Department of Education, Department of Labor, Long Beach Job Corps, Hawaii Pacific University, LA Care Health Plan, Lawton Public School, the Mayor Commission on the Status of Women, San Diego Youth Involvement, Fremont College and Langston University. She is also a Senior Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor for the Department of Rehabilitation.

Dr. Sonara is a Humanitarian known for her acts of kindness and grassroots efforts. She has a big heart for children and believes in putting action behind her words. In 2001, she founded a Men's Reading program at William McGill School of Success in San Diego. The Reading program is still in existence today and is a success. From 2004 to 2009, Dr. Sonara conducted annual workshops for the California Legislature at the Statewide Community Renewal Summit, a blue print for rebuilding communities.

Dr. Sonara understands the importance of being active in the community. She serves on the Board of Directors for San Diego Coalition for the Homeless since 1998. In addition to her board duties, Dr. Sonara plays Mrs. Santa at the annual Holiday Magic for Kids. This celebration gives away toys to 5,000-7,000 needy children throughout San Diego County. She is also a former board member for Adoption Information Center. Dr. Sonara is a Diamond Life member with Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Incorporated.

Working with the 1995 Oklahoma City Bombing survivors had an impact on Dr. Sonara’s life. The need to help individuals express their feelings after a traumatic event is what encouraged Dr. Sonara to pursue a PhD in Expressive Arts Therapy.
She created a National Healing Music Project which was sent to the Obama Administration. She served on the Oklahoma Mayor’s Commission for the Status of Women. Dr. Sonara has received countless awards for her contributions to the community including “Sonara Day in San Diego” in August 2005 proclaimed by the San Diego City Council, Outstanding Citizen by Assembly member Shirley Horton and Citizen of the month by Congressman Bob Filner. She was named Member of the Month in 2013 by Toastmaster’s International, just to name a few.

Dr. Sonara is a recording artist of the CD titled, A Man. She has written articles on wellness and enjoys empowering individuals to strive for excellence. She is working on a book titled, “the Healing Power of Music”. She resides in Los Angeles and has two college children, Drunell II and Drunara.
Dr. Sonara lives by the philosophy that, “the more we invest now into the lives of others, the less we’ll be required to pay later”.