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Coping with Loss and Grief During the Holidays

Updated on December 16, 2014

Not Everyone is Merry This Christmas: Loss & Grief During the Holidays

No matter what time of year it is, the death of a loved one is never an easy process to go through. Holiday seasons can be extremely painful. Feeling depressed and sad during the holidays can be even more difficult when everyone else around you seems to be “jolly” and in a festive spirit.

If you are grieving this holiday season, you are not alone.

It is inevitable that many families throughout the world are mourning during the holidays.

Whether you recently lost a loved one, you miss someone you lost years ago, or you realize that time is limited and this may be the last holiday you will be able to celebrate with a certain loved one who is facing death, it is normal that our emotions are intensified during the holiday season.

There is no right or wrong way to handle your grief during the holidays. Everyone’s grieving process is different. Everyone’s grieving process is personal and unique.

It can be debilitating as we mourn the loss of a loved one and our mind struggles to make sense out of things that happened. There is no magic pill that helps us eliminate all the emotions that we may go through. Yet it is important to go through the process. Time does ease the pain.

Stages of the grieving process.  Created by Sharyn's Slant
Stages of the grieving process. Created by Sharyn's Slant

Going through the grieving process is stressful and exhausting. Try to keep these things in mind to take care of yourself!

  • Be gentle with yourself
  • Do not feel obligated to do things you do not feel like doing
  • Give yourself all the time you need to grieve
  • Express your feelings
  • Allow others to help
  • Try not to isolate yourself
  • Do not be afraid to let others know what you may need
  • As your energy permits ~ stay busy and active
  • Do not feel guilty if you smile, laugh and have fun
  • Eat healthy
  • Get proper rest

Who says you can’t take the holidays off this year?

The reality is that holidays will not be the same after the loss of a loved one. They will simply be different.

If you have children or others that you take care of, it's important that you try to consider what they may be going through at this time as well. But if you are mainly just responsible for yourself, and if you truly feel that participating in the holidays is too hard for you, it is okay if you need to “cancel.” The holidays will come around again. And chances are that you will enjoy them again.


Ideas for celebrating the life of those that have passed on:

  • Dedicate a prayer at your holiday dinner
  • Make a donation in honor of your loved one
  • Share your favorite memories
  • Light a candle
  • Make a toast in remembrance
  • Create a memory book
  • Share photos and videos
  • Dedicate a mass
  • Hang a stocking
  • Celebrate old traditions
  • Start new traditions

Other Types of Loss and Causes of Personal Grief

Grief accompanies loss . . . which means your loss could be something other than the death of a loved one.

Maybe you have been diagnosed with an illness. Did you lose a job? Are you struggling to make ends meet? Are you stuck in a depression? Maybe you are going through a painful relationship breakup? Did you lose your favorite pet?

Loss comes in many forms. No matter what loss is causing your grief, be gentle with yourself and reach out if you need help.

How to Help Someone Who is Grieving During the Holidays

If someone special to you is grieving this holiday season, do your best to let them know you care. You may not agree with how the grieving person wishes to handle the holidays. But keep in mind that you will not find a "rule book" on the proper ways to grieve. Every situation is unique.


Haiku Poetry Dedicated To Those I’m Missing This Holiday Season

MOM (9/4/1937 - 11/8/2005)

Truly were the best

Friend that I could ever have

That will never change.

GRANDMA (7/11/1905 - 2/23/2008)

Miss your gentle touch

Always scratching others backs

Healing hands of yours.

KIM (12/18/1968 - 10/8/2011)

May not understand

Wish that we could talk today

Hope you are at peace.

DAD (9/29/31 - 1/17/2014)

Unexpected loss

Definitely not prepared

We will meet again.

This is Sharyn's Slant


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