Published on November 15, 2021

Grief Can Make Holiday Cheer Difficult

broken ornament on Christmas treeGrief is a normal response to a loss, and one of the greatest losses that can occur is the death of someone that you love.

Holidays seem to magnify the loss even more and can make it difficult to have holiday cheer. Holidays are a peak time for grief as you tend to be flooded with memories and feelings. People move through grief at different speeds and express themselves in different ways, but it is important that you do grieve so you can start to heal in healthy ways.

I remember the first Christmas family gathering we had without my dad. I had told my sister previously that it “wouldn't be the same without Dad here.” When we gathered Christmas Day with the family—everything seemed to all fall in place and everyone seemed happy as we carried on our usual holiday traditions. I recall looking at my sister and telling her that I miss Dad, but I feel like everything is going to be okay. She nodded her head and smiled back at me. His spirit seemed to be in the room and within my family.

Give yourself some space to express how you’re feeling. Sometimes people bottle up anger or sorrow; sometimes people feel guilty because they feel joy after a loss. Don’t judge feelings as good or bad, they just are.

Consider these ways to help you cope with grief during the holidays:

  • Honor your needs—only do as much as you can do
  • Let go of irrational expectations that everyone must be happy at holiday times
  • Remember what’s important and meaningful
  • Allow yourself to experience something different instead of traditional activities
  • Don’t expect to be brave through everything—crying is a way to express your feelings and it can help
  • Often friends and family can nourish us and help with healing
  • Leaning on others who have been through similar losses can help us heal
  • It is so helpful to have a good support system
  • Get enough rest
  • Take time to do things that are enjoyable and meaningful—a walk can be refreshing for the soul and mind
  • Renew your spirit by praying and focusing on gratitude
  • Focus on what is within your control and realize that it is okay to say no
  • It seems the best gift you give yourself is being around those who you care about

The road of grief is such a hard one to travel, and at some point in life we will all have to travel this road. Some people will travel faster than others; some will crawl or even fall along the way. Some will have others who help pick them up and travel alongside them. Some will be sad, while others will be joyful along the way. We don't know when we will start or end as grief has no time frame.

I love this saying and quote it many times to the bereaved: “May you find the strength to face tomorrow in the love that surrounds you today.”

Holidays are a peak time for grief as you tend to be flooded with memories and feelings.