8 Helpful Tips for Coping with Grief during the Holidays


Dealing with a loss at any time of year is painful, but I have been told by friends and family that the holidays often highlight their grief for their loved one who has passed away. From the community sense of joy, love, and peace, to annual traditions that may be changing, to favorite recipes, and family vacations, these are things that can all combine to become an overwhelming sense of loss for a person. If you, or someone you know, has experienced a loss, here are eight tips that I have found online that can be helpful for coping with grief during the holiday season.

Respect Your Needs, Mentally and Physically

If you are not up for celebrating your holiday this year, don’t do it. You need to take care of yourself first, and if that means skipping out on your traditional event, feel free to head to a movie instead, take a vacation somewhere new, or do something completely different. It won’t make the pain hurt any less, but it will keep you in a better place if you need it to find strength. Ask for help. Host a potluck buffet instead of a sit-down meal if you want to keep a family gathering for the day. Change it up to keep it easy and stress-free.

Honor Traditions

If you feel a higher urge to continue traditions, complete with your loved one’s favorite meal, do it. Traditions can be so important to families and can help you to heal through having the exact same routine you would have had any other year. Just like above, if you feel the need to keep things exactly how you have known them, there is nothing wrong with doing so.

Light a Candle

Many people I have talked with discussed lighting a specific candle for their loved one(s) who have passed. Whether you have a family ceremony while during lighting, say a prayer, read a poem, or just leave the candle burning in silence, comfort is taken in that small step in honoring their friends or family.

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Donate to a Charity

If your family or friend was a lover of a certain charity, animal, or even flower, there are organizations out there you can find to make a donation “in memory of” if you feel the need to connect through giving and helping others. We had a pregnancy loss this year, and we will both be lighting a candle and making a donation in the honor of the baby who didn’t make it to full-term.

A Soulful Stocking

One ritual that I love the idea of, is having a stocking for the loved one, and filling it with pieces of paper writing down favorite memories, what is missed about them, and sharing life updates. These notes can either be read at a family gathering, if desired, brought to a grave-site or urn to read aloud, or even burned in a campfire to spark up to the stars.

Decoration or Ornaments

If you see a special, sentimental, or humorous ornament that reminds you of the person who passed, add it to your tree with a smile. Tell stories about why Great Grandpa would have loved this ornament, and pass those little bits of personalization down to your children. Find one with a special meaning to you in memory of your loved one.

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Shown: Loving Angel, In Memory Of, Memorial Tree, Clouds and Stars (also beautiful for births)

Books or Stories

If your Grandpa was the one who always read The Night Before Christmas aloud to the family, designate another family member to continue that tradition. If they liked to watch a certain holiday movie, have a family night to enjoy together. The book Rabbityness is a beautiful little story about loss for children, and I quite like it myself. It’s simple and sweet.

Finally… Just Grieve

It’s okay to fall apart. It’s okay to need your family and friends. It’s okay to not be strong or hold it together. You lost someone you loved and it’s okay to really feel that pain. It’s necessary in order to start taking the steps you need to move forward.

Do you have any tips or ways you or your family/friends cope with grief during the holiday season? We would love to share.

Brandi recently took a break from her career as a mapmaker (GIS Analyst) to stay at home with her toddler son after moving to Jacksonville, Florida. She is knee-deep in diaper bags and baby gear as the founder of her website Little Brim Baby and as a contributor for BuyModernBaby and Child Mode. Passionate about breastfeeding, babywearing, and children’s books, she also enjoys spending time with her son browsing the local stores for unique baby and toddler items, enjoying area waterways with her family, and trying to adjust her native Illinois body to the humid Florida climate. Brandi is a baby gear enthusiast and loves sharing her favorite products, reviews, tips, and fellow moms’ advice with her readers.


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