Holiday Grief Guidance


I’m sure many of you are excited about the holiday season. It means being with family, food, celebration and traditions. And we get it, that used to be us too. But something has changed for us, someone we love very much has left us. Now the holidays give us feeling of loss, sadness and anxiety. They remind us of who and what we lost. We see that empty chair, we notice their absence, we feel heartache instead of happiness.
So what can YOU do to help us grievers?
  1. Please don’t say Happy Thanksgiving or Happy New Year or Merry Christmas. While it’s happy for many it’s not for us, so maybe changing it to say thinking of you on this thanksgiving, Christmas etc
  2. Please don’t pretend or ignore our grief. Acting ‘normal’ is not helpful. We may not want to talk about our grief, but we also do not want to pretend we didn’t lose someone we love.
  3. Ask us if we want to join dinner and not assume. Acknowledging we may not want to is helpful. Example-will you be joining us for thanksgiving, I understand that you may not want to and that is ok, we can send a plate.
  4. Even if it makes us cry, please remember our loved one too. Say their name, incorporate them into the festivities any little way you can. Some grievers may be reading this and already feeling emotional at this, but I implore you to let them. Let this become a natural thing for you and them to do.
  5. Acknowledge awareness of our ongoing grief rather than assuming we should already feel or do anything expected by others.


There’s no magic number of years gone by for when the holidays become a celebration instead of a commemoration again. Keep these things in mind for anyone you know who’s had a great loss every year. However first and second can be particularly the most painful.


Death isn’t the only time we grieve, if you know someone whose relationship ended and they are struggling or you know someone who has a loved one far away that they cannot be with and they are struggling, keep SOME of these suggestions in mind too. #4 would most likely not be appropriate for a relationship ending.

Music Recommendation: 

The Lumineers – Nobody Knows (

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