How to Cope With Grief During The Holidays

For anyone coping with grief, the holidays can be a pretty rough time. The holidays can be a devastating reminder of what you lost or what you experienced. The media is notorious for building up the holidays and creating an overall feeling of happiness and joy, but the most festive time of year may not be so festive for everyone. Instead, it is a time of sadness and a reminder of what once was.

Sad woman sitting alone on the couch during Christmas

How To Cope With Grief During The Holidays

  • Treat it like any other day
  • Give yourself plenty of rewards
  • Create new traditions
  • Honor your loved ones

Treat it like any other day

Despite the lights that don many people’s front yards, Santa Clauses stationed at malls, and holiday music playing in stores, December 25th is just like any other day. It is only made special because people make it special. You don’t have to celebrate Christmas or any other holiday this month. You won’t be called a Grinch for simply not wanting to partake.

This year December 25th will fall on a Friday (2020 of all years). So, do what you would normally do on a Saturday. Get some work done, do some reading, watch a movie, or if the weather is warm enough, go have a picnic at the park. Go do what you enjoy. Treat December 25th like any other day. Because it is any other day. It doesn’t have to be a reminder of what once was or what you lost.

December 25th should be a day of feeling grateful and happy to be alive. It should be a day to be jovial for the smallest of joys. It should be a day that is a respite from the fray, but certainly not an added stressor. It should be an easy going day. It should be the kind of day that you want. So, go do what you want to do on December 25th and not what others think you should do.

Give yourself plenty of rewards

Just like any other day, give yourself plenty of rewards everyday this month. Treat yourself to that Pumpkin Spice Latte or White Christmas Coffee. Indulge in a cocktail over the holidays. Bake some amazing chocolate chip cookies. Buy yourself a fun popcorn popper. Buy yourself that thing that you’ve always wanted but never got.

Giving rewards when you are not at your best can help you to feel better, improve your self-esteem, and give you a distraction. It won’t totally make the pain go away. Unfortunately nothing can do that but simply more time. It can however succeed in numbing the pain or putting it off temporarily.

I believe that if we put off the pain, little by little, then slowly we will start to feel better. Of course, I’m not saying that we shouldn’t be allowed to feel the pain. In order to recover, we need to let ourselves experience the grief, but in a healthy way. But only when you are ready. Don’t let yourself feel something until you want to. It will come but make sure that you have the support system and a handful of chocolate to get you through it.

Create new traditions

The holidays are all about traditions. But you can create new traditions. You can do something different. Instead of creating a huge holiday feast, why not order Chinese and binge watch movies that day? Instead of going Christmas caroling, then why not stay in and read a book? Instead of going to see the lights, why not call a friend or invite a friend over?

You don’t have to do the same traditions that you’ve done in the years past or what everyone else is doing. Just because everyone is doing it, doesn’t mean that it’s right. Do what feels right for you. Do what makes you happy. Put yourself first this holiday season. Be a little selfish and think of what you most want.

Honor your loved ones

Just because they are gone doesn’t mean that they can’t be included in the festivities. You can still find a way to honor your loved ones. Make a special holiday ornament filled with things that remind you of them. If you host a holiday dinner, then make your loved one’s favorite dish. Write a note to your loved one and tell about the wonderful memories that you’ve had. Make a donation in your loved one’s name to a cause that they supported.

If you want, do something that helps to keep their memory alive. People are with us for as long as we let them, and that goes for the deceased. Even though they are gone, they will always be with us. They exist within us, in our memories. Don’t be afraid to think of the memories. Remember what they did and smile about the wonderful influence they had on your life. Celebrate the good that came out of knowing them, and not the bad.


Although the holidays can be a tough time, I think it is most important that you remember that grief is a process. So, be gentle with yourself this holiday season. Do what you want to do. Create new traditions. Make new memories but at the same time hold on to the old memories.

What would you add to this list?

Please help me grow!

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Hi! I'm Helen and I am a 32 year old biracial millennial mom raising two multiracial children. I am a writer, English consultant, and social media manager. I am a self-proclaimed chocoholic.

22 thoughts on “How to Cope With Grief During The Holidays

  1. My mom died on December 8th 2005 and was buried on the 12th. I don’t talk about things like that often but it really is a difficult period to enjoy. I love how you recommended making something to honour/remember a lost loved one by – I had never thought of doing something like that! Thanks for sharing, you never know who you will help with these posts <3

    1. Hi Shelly, thanks for sharing about losing your mum. I hope you did find some happiness over the festive period despite your grief.
      I agree with honouring a loved one by making something. I give my grief the time and space it deserves because I want to honour and remember my mum. I think that is why I write about grief too because it honours how I feel and makes me feel closer to myself and my mum. Really interesting post, Helen. Thanks!

      1. Thanks hun, I did enjoy spending time with my family. It’s great that you allow yourself to feel the emotions, but just be careful not to let it define who you are or the life you live. <3

  2. This is a very sensitive and understanding piece: I lost loved ones in the run up to Christmas and always found it hard. It’s easier these days but that pressure to be cheerful doesn’t help!

    1. Absolutely! We must celebrate or not celebrate in our own way. I also have lost someone very dear to me in January so the holidays is a difficult time for me

  3. “It should be a day to be jovial for the smallest of joys. It should be a day that is a respite from the fray, but certainly not an added stressor.” Very wise advice.
    December 25th probably was not the birthday of Jesus, anyway. The early Christ-followers did not celebrate His birth at all, but rather focused on His resurrection (which we call by the pagan name Easter). The celebration of “Christ’s Mass” seems to be mostly an added day of merriment to give a ‘cold-shoulder’ to the wintry iciness, and borrows extensively from pagan celebrations of Saturnalia in pre-Christian times.
    Traditions? That is simply the handing down from one’s parents or culture of “the way we did it last year.” 😉
    Definitely, start you own family’s traditions! Kwanzaa and Hanukah make good alternatives. Still waiting for my Muslim friends to come up with a holiday to celebrate the winter solstice. 🙂 Hey, the days are gonna get longer now until the estival solstice in June.

  4. My grandfather died on December 6th of 2014, and my grandmother died in January a year or two before him… add in my mother dying in August of 2019; I have a lot of grief compounding around me during the holidays… so this list helps!!
    Self-care is important; I have to learn to take care of me 🙂

    1. I’m sorry for your loss. My heart goes out to you. To lose so many in such a short amount of time is … words can’t even describe.
      But yes self-care is definitely important. It may seem as if you’re being selfish because of the emphasis on being selfless and giving during Christmas… but you’ve got to GIVE to yourself just as much as you do other people. You are also worthy. <3

  5. i really enjoyed reading this blog, and I think it is on an important topic. I really like the idea of honoring our loved ones, it’s a great way to remember them! Thanks for sharing!

    Feel free to read some of my blogs 🙂

  6. This is a great read. Chritstmas has always been a holiday I have seen as a way to enjoy the season of winter as well as a time where people have open and warm hearts. People extend extra kindness and families unite. But grief always comes into play especially when you have lost a loved one in the season.

    What a great idea to include them by honoring them. I can see how it may add some ease to the pain.

    1. Thank you for reading! And I am glad that it is helpful. It is important that we bring awareness to this issue. Christmas isn’t just sunshine and rainbows 🙂

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