Navigating the Holidays After a Significant Loss

Just google “holiday and grief” and you’ll find countless helpful articles addressing the particular difficulties surrounding this topic, from 64 tips to 8 ways to cope with the death of a loved one during the holidays and anything and everything in between. Those that would benefit the most from all the helpful resources actually don’t have the time, energy, or make the effort it takes to explore them. If you are one of those people or know someone that falls into that category, this was written with you in mind.


The holidays are extra difficult for those experiencing a recent loss because the celebratory nature of “happy” and “merry” that precludes the winter holiday festivities just doesn’t coincide with how we are feeling and living after a significant loss.

A recent article emphasized that, when inviting someone who is experiencing grief to your holiday parties, you should let them know that they’re welcome to bring their grief as well. Whether we like it or not, we bring our grief with us wherever we go. The best tip for us as we grieve during the holidays is to treat our grief like another guest we’ve to learn to work with, like the odd quirky aunt, uncle, cousin, or in-law that will inevitably be around during the holidays. You know the one always saying the most bizarre things and the one you warn any new guest to watch out for.

Hopefully, we’ve learned their ways and come to expect the weird interactions we have with them. It would behoove us to not wish their absence, as much as we should accept their appearance and embrace them. In that same vein, grief should be accepted, not dismissed. As much as it causes us to be uncomfortable, we should learn to adjust accordingly and entertain it at manageable levels.

During holiday gatherings, if and when grief overtakes us, we need to give ourselves and others permission to break away at a moment’s notice, to step to a quiet place, or to go outside and get fresh air for a few minutes, before we reengage and regather with our other loved ones.

Wishing you the very best during this holiday season!