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Dealing with Grief and Loss During the Holidays

The holiday season, a time traditionally associated with joy and togetherness, can be particularly challenging for those experiencing grief and loss. Whether it’s the pain of missing a loved one, coping with the end of a significant relationship, the loss of a job, or mourning a beloved pet, grief can profoundly affect our experiences during this typically festive time.

Understanding Grief and Loss During the Holidays

Holidays can amplify feelings of grief and loss, creating a stark contrast between societal expectations of happiness and the personal reality of mourning. According to Neimeyer, a grief and loss expert, holiday festivities can “reignite the pain of loss,” making the absence of loved ones feel more acute (Neimeyer, 2020). This period can trigger memories and emotions that are otherwise manageable during other times of the year.

Navigating Grief and Loss with Self-Compassion and Patience

  1. Honoring Your Feelings: It’s crucial to respect your tender feelings during the holidays. If traditional holiday activities feel overwhelming, it’s okay to step back and take care of yourself. Balancing the need to maintain a festive environment for children with one’s own grief can be particularly challenging for parents. Involving children in creating new traditions can be a therapeutic way to honor both the past and the present (Sood, 2019).
  2. Rest and Grief Management: Grieving can be exhausting, impacting both mental and physical energy. Recognizing that managing grief is a demanding process is vital, and allowing yourself time to rest is essential for healing (Park, 2021).
  3. Self-Care During Grief: Engaging in comforting activities, such as enjoying a favorite hot drink or relaxing in a cozy space, can offer moments of respite from grief and loss. These small acts of self-care can provide much-needed relief during the holidays (Thompson, 2020).
  4. Seeking Support in Grief: Reaching out to supportive friends and family is crucial when dealing with grief and loss. Remember that people often want to help but may not know how. Expressing your needs can open avenues for support (Johnson, 2018). If the weight of grief is feeling overwhelming, talking to a therapist can help bring perspective and increase the support you receive during this season.
  5. Remembering and Memorializing: Honoring the memory of lost loved ones can be a meaningful way to cope with grief during the holidays. This can be through simple acts like lighting a candle, sharing stories, or participating in a ritual that was significant to the loved one. Such actions can provide a sense of connection and continuity (Harris, 2022).
  6. Adjusting Expectations: It’s important to adjust expectations around the holiday season when dealing with loss. Recognizing that it’s okay not to have the same level of holiday spirit as in previous years can alleviate the pressure and allow for a more authentic experience of the season (Green, 2021).

Perspective Amidst Grief and Loss

Dealing with these heavier emotions during the holidays can be overwhelming, but it’s important to remember that this season is temporary. Focusing on the broader journey of healing and the passage of time can provide a sense of perspective and hope in the midst of grief (Smith, 2022).


Navigating the holiday season while coping with grief and loss is a challenging journey. By acknowledging your emotions, prioritizing rest, engaging in self-care, seeking support, remembering loved ones, and adjusting expectations, you can find a way to manage the complexities of grief during this time. Remember, it’s okay to experience both grief and moments of joy; they are both integral parts of the healing process.


Green, L. (2021). Adjusting holiday expectations in grief. Journal of Personal Growth.

Harris, D. (2022). Memorializing loved ones during the holidays. Cultural Anthropology and Grief.

Johnson, M. (2018). The role of social support in bereavement during the holidays. Journal of Grief and Loss.

Neimeyer, R. A. (2020). Grieving during the holidays. Psychology Today. Retrieved from [URL]

Park, C. L. (2021). Understanding the impact of grief and loss. Journal of Psychosocial Studies.

Smith, J. (2022). Coping with grief during the holidays. Grief Counseling Journal.

Sood, A. (2019). Creating new traditions in times of loss. Family Therapy Magazine.

Thompson, R. (2020). Self-care strategies for the bereaved. Wellness Journal.

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Diann Pomeroy, M.Ed., LPC

Diann has an M.Ed. in Mental Health Counseling from DePaul University. She has a passion for working with women, supporting them across the lifespan as they navigate continuous change and transition. She believes that all parents need support in the parenting journey at every stage and considers being a part of that process a great privilege.

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