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Struggling‌ ‌to‌ ‌Celebrate?‌ ‌Grief & Loss‌ ‌ ‌During‌ ‌the‌ ‌Holidays‌

Updated: Apr 27

Losing a loved one hurts. The light and revelry of the holidays can make your grieving process even more difficult.

When a loved one is no longer there to spend time with you, share traditions, or reminisce, celebrating at all may seem too much to ask.

So, if you feel down during this time, it’s okay. Maybe you’re sad, lonely, or it feels like you’ve lost them yet again. It's normal to feel grief and loss during the holidays.

Maybe you need to sit this year’s celebrations out. If you do try to continue the same traditions, accept yourself and the reality. Things are just different.

Grief and love are conjoined, you don't get one without the other. All I can do is love her, and love the world, emulate her by living with daring and spirit and joy.” ~Jandy Nelson,The Sky Is Everywhere

Here are some more ways to cope:

14 Ways to Manage Grief and Loss During the Holidays

1. Accept that things will be different and likely difficult.

Unfortunately, things have changed and that is not okay. It is okay to acknowledge this sad new reality.

2. Figure out what traditions you will and won’t keep.

Some things will remind you of your loved one in a good way, and some may make you sad to continue without their presence. Decide which traditions bring you joy versus those which bring you pain.

3. Create a tradition in their honor.

Doing this can be a nice way to keep their memory alive while recognizing the change that their death has caused.

4. Light a candle in their memory.

Whether at church or at home, it doesn't matter.

5. Make your loved one’s favorite dish.

Chances are that they had a signature dish they may have been known for or loved to eat. This gives you the chance to remember them lovingly and fondly through food to which you feel a connection.

6. Buy a gift you would have bought for your loved one.

Then, donate it to a charity they would have liked.

7. Leave one seat empty for your loved one.

This is a small gesture that can help honor them and keep their spirit alive during holiday gatherings.

8. Gather a few items that belonged to your loved one.

Give them as gifts to friends and family.

9. Make an ornament that represents them.

Reflect their values, something they like, or who you want to remember them to be. This can be a good way to cope with your emotions while creating a long-lasting memento of your love and care for them.

10. Visit the gravesite of your loved one and leave a memento.

11. Play the holiday music that your loved one enjoyed the most.

There are so many holiday classics and albums. There may be one that your loved one enjoyed more than the others, or particular songs that you play and you can’t help but to think of them. Try playing music that reminds you of them, and you may have positive feelings for a moment or two.

12. Journal your emotions and triggers.

Sometimes you don’t have to do anything, and writing your feelings can make you feel better. Journaling can also give you permission to feel the complex emotions you’re experiencing.

13. Skip events that you don’t want to attend.

You should think about how things make you feel. It is okay to forgo an event where you will be expected to give your time and energy to make others feel happy if you aren’t up to it.

14. See a counselor.

A counselor might be what you need to get through the holiday season. They can provide support and help you to deal with the painful emotions you will probably feel. If you have put off going to the counselor for some time, consider making it the time to see a counselor now.

Finally, the holidays can be difficult on multiple levels. Hopefully, these tips can give you a mental and emotional boost when trying to honor your loved one in a meaningful and authentic way.

If you would like to know how we can help you navigate and communicate your grief and loss further, please contact me.

rows of tea light candles lit


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