Coping with Grief Throughout the Holiday Season

The holiday season is approaching, and this time of year can bring about many fond memories and feelings of joy. This time of year can also be a time of grief and guilt when looking back at those happy memories and realizing our loved ones are no longer physically present to share in these happy memories. It is important to remember that these feelings are a normal part of the grieving experience and that these feelings you experience are valid, and during this time there are strategies you can do to support yourself.

Remember that grieving is an individualized and universal experience. Everyone grieves loss, you are not alone, yet the strategies that work for you to effectively grieve may not work for others, and what works for you may also change as the years go by. It is important to love yourself and allow yourself the grace during this time as you cope.

“Grief is like the ocean; it comes on waves ebbing and flowing. Sometimes the water is calm, and sometimes it is overwhelming. All we can do is learn to swim.”

-Vicki Harrison

Navigating the holidays can present challenges, strategies to help include:


  1. Traditions: You may have had traditions fondly associated with your loved one. It is okay to continue these traditions or modify them to mesh with this new chapter in your life. You may find a creative way to honor old traditions or memories. Traditions may even be rooted in the location you hold a holiday dinner. Be up front with your emotions and think about if changing up the location or continuing where things have always been may be more emotionally been. New traditions may be a way to symbolize the love that still continues, like baking your loved one’s favorite dessert, listening to your loved one’s favorite music, or creating an ornament to honor your loved one.
  2. Boundaries: Setting boundaries can be healthy. If there is an event or tradition that may bring with it an intense rush of painful emotion, be up front with yourself and others. You do not have to power through the holidays, it is okay to say “No” when you need to. Be honest with others with what you emotionally feel you can and cannot do this holiday season.
  3. Acts of Kindness: If you are feeling up for it, doing something for others in the holiday season can help lift your spirits. You can even dedicate this act internally to your loved one’s memory serving in capacities such as volunteering your time, donating gifts and goods to those in need, or inviting someone without family to join you in celebrating the holiday.
  4. Grieve: Allow yourself the opportunity to feel the feelings. While grief has been traditionally thought of in a negative context, the memories and love that are entangled in grief are extremely powerful and rooted in a place of love. Love yourself throughout the season and throughout the range of emotions you may experience.
  5. Ask for Help: Do not be afraid to ask for help. Asking for help does not mean you are failing or weak, but courageous. It can be incredibly intimidating to ask for help when you need it but know there are people that are willing to help. Whether that be a friend, family member, counselor, support group, or our bereavement team at Honor Hospice, there are people available to offer support.
  6. Coping Strategies: Utilizing healthy coping strategies that have worked for you in the past or try some new strategies to plan ahead for the holiday season. This may include drawing on support, journaling your feelings, sharing your feelings with others, exercising, and getting good sleep.

“Courage is grace under pressure.”

 – Ernest Hemingway


The holiday season may be difficult, but remember many others feel the same way this holiday season. While others may share personal strategies and share opinions on how to manage your emotions, remember it is an individual experience and trialing different strategies may be necessary for your personal experience this holiday season. Do not get frustrated and angered with yourself and love yourself through this season as you work through your thoughts and feelings. Love yourself, be kind to yourself, and take the journey one step at a time.