Coping with Grief During the Holidays

The holiday season is often portrayed as a time of joy, happiness, and togetherness. However, for those who are grieving the loss of a loved one, this time can be incredibly challenging and emotionally overwhelming. Grief during the holidays can manifest in various ways and navigating through this difficult period requires understanding, acceptance, and self-care. In this blog, we will explore what grief during the holidays might look like and provide practical tips on how to address and cope with your grief.

Understanding Grief During the Holidays:

Grief during the holidays is unique and can be intensified due to the contrast between the festivities and your personal feelings of loss. Here are some common experiences people may have: 

  1. Emotional Turbulence: You may find yourself feeling a range of emotions such as sadness, anger, guilt, or even numbness. It’s important to acknowledge and accept these emotions rather than suppressing them.
  2. Social Isolation: You may feel disconnected or isolated from others who seem to be filled with holiday cheer. This feeling of isolation can arise from the absence of a loved one, changes in family dynamics, or simply not knowing how to engage with others during this time.
  3. Nostalgia and Triggers: Memories of past holidays spent with your loved one may resurface, leading to a sense of longing and nostalgia. Traditional holiday activities and decorations can also serve as triggers, evoking powerful emotions.

Coping Strategies for Grief During the Holidays:

Although the pain of grief cannot be completely erased, there are ways to honor your emotions and find solace during the holiday season. Here are some suggestions:

  1. Create New Traditions: Consider incorporating new rituals or activities that honor your loved one’s memory while providing comfort and support to yourself. This could be lighting a candle in their honor, sharing stories, or making a donation to a cause that was important to them.
  2. Seek support: Reach out to trusted friends and family members who can provide a listening ear and emotional support. Joining support groups or seeking professional counseling can also be immensely beneficial in navigating grief during the holidays.
  3. Practice Self-Care: It’s crucial to prioritize self-care during this time. Engage in activities that bring you joy and peace, such as practicing mindfulness and meditation, engaging in creative outlets, or spending time in nature. Taking care of your physical health through proper nutrition and exercise is equally important.
  4. Allow Yourself to Feel: Give yourself permission to experience and express your emotions. It’s okay to cry, reminisce, or even avoid certain events if they feel too overwhelming. Be gentle with yourself and remember that healing takes time.
  5. Connect with Others: consider volunteering or reaching out to those who may be experiencing similar feelings of grief during the holidays. Connecting with others who understand can provide a sense of belonging and empathy.


Grief during the holidays is a complex and deeply personal experience. Remember that there is no right or wrong way to grieve, and everyone copes differently. By acknowledging your emotions, seeking support, and practicing self-care, you can navigate through this challenging period and find moments of comfort and healing. Be kind to yourself and allow the holiday season to become a time of reflection, remembrance, and gradual restoration.  

Reviewed By:
Bethany Keith, MSW, LCSW; Senior Clinical Therapist
Casey Merrill

Casey Merrill


Christal Pennic

Christal Pennic