How to Cope With Grief During the Holidays

By JoAnne Funch
senior assistance, grief, holidaysThe holiday season is a joyous time for most, but those who have experienced a loss, this usually festive time of the year can be a painful reminder that your loved one is no longer around. You wonder how will you cope with grief?

Everyone experiences loss of those they love, but the intensity of your grief can be doubled by your relationship to the person who died such as a parent, spouse or child and this is the first holiday without that person who was so important in your life.

Like me and most other people who face this holiday season with a huge void, a hole in our hearts we have many questions and thoughts that are conjured up in your mind like, How can I survive this?, I want to hide until the holiday season is over, I don't feel like celebrating, I can't act normal because my life isn't normal, I can't face happy people, No one understands the grief I am going through and how will our holiday traditions now be different?

You should know that there really are no right or wrong answers to all the questions and all the questions you ponder may not have answers, maybe not now anyway.

Before you are totally overcome with anxiety, overwhelm and sadness there are things you can do to ease your pain and sorrow.

Here are just a few ideas that will help you cope immediately this year. You will feel so much better honoring yourself and the memories of your loved one. You will also release expectations and surprises you don't want to face.

Lower Your Expectations

Don't feel obligated to send the holidays cards and bake all the cookies like you used to.

Honor What You Feel

These are your feelings and whatever you do this holiday, claim those feelings.

Planning Ahead

You now realize that this year's holidays and perhaps holidays yet to come will not be the same or unfold how you'd wish. It is best to plan your days ahead as this will help you cope.

Empower yourself where you can

Obviously there are many changes you can't escape from and you may feel your power has been taken away. Perhaps this is a good time to evaluate your holiday traditions, which ones hold meaning and which ones you want to keep.

Major changes

For the first year or two without your loved one, it usually isn't a good idea to make any major changes to your traditions like leaving town only to escape or ignoring all sense of traditions you used to share.

Get and maintain a support system

The holiday season is a time when emotions naturally are running high

as are the memories making this a difficult time to be alone. I encourage you to find support of family and friends who can pitch in and offer help.


If your loss was recent you will want everyone to remember your loved one, I know I did. You may choose to plan a ceremony or special tribute to honor your loved one, or a casual round the table recalling stories kind of sharing.


During your time of sorrow you may find it impossible to find anything to be grateful for. But I assure you even during our darkest time there are things we can be grateful for.

You too can cope with grief during the holidays if you are gentle with yourself and try some of these ideas and more than anything, finding some joy during this festive time of year is also a wonderful way of honoring the memories of those who have brought us so much joy and those still with us.

JoAnne Funch is dedicated to supporting those grieving a loss through her website Heartache To Healing offering resources, support, and to help and inspire those who are suffering through life transitions by sharing her personal story of surviving loss and writings such as

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  1. [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Mike Gamble, steve Joyce. steve Joyce said: From EldercareABC-- How to Cope With Grief During the Holidays: By JoAnne Funch The holiday season is a joyous tim... [...]
  2. <strong>Social comments and analytics for this post...</strong> This post was mentioned on Twitter by ECMatters: From EldercareABC-- How to Cope With Grief During the Holidays: By JoAnne Funch The holiday season is a joyous tim...
  3. Stay busy, participate, and always think about the greater achievements ahead. I know its hard, but you need to keep looking forward.
  4. This is a great article about dealing with grief during the holidays. I added a Grief community on my website, shareWIK (share What I Know) and would love your input! ShareWIK is an online community bringing together people of all areas of expertise so that they can share what they know. Keep up the great work, and we would love to hear from you!

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