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5 tips for coping with grief during the holidays

By The Health News Team | December 15, 2023
Woman with blanket and coffee looking out the window

Whether recent or one that happened years ago, the loss a loved one may be difficult to bear, particularly during the holidays when moments with family and friends are often the focal point.

“The holidays typically remind us of warm memories and bringing people together,” says Colleen Linnertz, LMFT, SEP, a bereavement counselor and advanced care planning coach with Sharp HospiceCare. “But for those grappling with grief, these days can be uniquely challenging.”

It’s normal to feel grief, as it’s part of the healing process. But there are ways to cope, Linnertz says.

She provides 5 tips for dealing with loss during the holidays:


Allow yourself to feel.

Give yourself permission to feel whatever it is you’re feeling. It’s OK to feel sad or angry. And it’s also OK to experience moments of joy and happiness. Whatever you may be feeling, it’s important not to expect the holiday season to take away or obscure your feelings of grief.


Have a support system.

Allow yourself to turn to others for support, both for practical and emotional assistance. Friends and family can be there to alleviate some of the hustle and bustle of the holiday season, such as helping with shopping, decorating or food preparation.


Take charge where you can.

If you have holiday traditions, you may want to evaluate which ones you feel comfortable maintaining this year and which traditions might be best to change or eliminate. Also, try to plan your day ahead of time and give yourself permission to be flexible with this plan to allow for changes as needed.


Take it easy.

The holiday season can be a hectic time. Try to be gentle with yourself and make space for comfort or joy. This may include not overplanning, allowing time for rest and relaxation, and being kind to yourself.


Remember to remember.

You may find comfort in finding ways to remember and honor your loved one. Some examples may be to give a toast or a prayer in your loved one’s honor before dinner, light a candle, donate a gift in honor of your loved one’s memory, give a gift of your loved one’s belongings to another family member, or share stories of your loved one during a holiday gathering.

Learn about bereavement support at Sharp; get the latest health and wellness news, trends and patient stories from Sharp Health News; and subscribe to our weekly newsletter by clicking the "Sign up" link below.


Colleen Linnertz


Colleen Linnertz, LMFT, is a bereavement counselor and advanced care planning coach with Sharp HospiceCare.

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