Four Tips for Coping with Grief During the Holidays

Four Tips for Coping with Grief During the Holidays

The holiday season is typically a joyous time of year filled with family gatherings and gift giving. But for those who have experienced a loss, this time of year can be very difficult. It can be very overwhelming and even painful to watch others celebrate and be thankful, while they feel so overwhelmed and sad. The holidays can also reinforce how much our lives have been changed by the loss of our loved one. 

While sadness and sorrow are normal reactions to grief, they can feel uncomfortable. Be mindful that despite the discomfort, these thoughts and feelings are healthy and helpful. Below are four tips to help you through the difficult emotions and to cope with this holiday season. 

mother and daughter hugging and grieving from loss
Set realistic expectations for yourself

After a loss, our lives are in an upheaval and the holidays are going to be different than in past years. Rather than trying to get back to “normal,” it’s ok to do things differently than before and that will help to reduce any stress. Perhaps asking others to help with the cooking or shopping for presents for loved ones is a good option to help ease the feeling of being overwhelmed during this time of year. 

Loved ones can be a source of support

This time of year, smaller gatherings with family and friends may bring less stress than being in large crowds. Sometimes sharing memories can be comforting, especially ones that are from holidays spent together. Looking back at photo albums and telling stories can also be something you can share with family and friends. 

Try to keep plans and not cancel

When we are feeling sad and stressed, it is tempting to cancel any holiday celebrations. Although it is okay to avoid some activities that you don’t feel you can handle yet, it is best not to isolate yourself. It’s important to have time to grieve, and everyone does this in their own way and at their own pace, but it should be balanced with outside activities. 

Find comfort in doing for others

A very effective way to find joy in the holidays is to give to others! Consider making donation in memory of your loved one, supporting a family in need, or volunteering your time throughout the holiday season. This will get you out of the house and keep you focused on the happiness you are bringing to others.  

If your grief and stress become too much to handle on your own, our  Counseling & Wellness Center clinicians can help you develop a plan to work through the emotions that you are experiencing. Call our main number at 844-4-ACENDA (844-422-3632) for more information.  


Psychology Today