Getting Through The Holiday Season: Strategies For The Bereaved

During the holidays, it seems that the whole world is caught up with parties and fun. At this time of year, those who grieve may only be aware of the terrible hole in their hearts and their lives.

Here are some suggestions to help make this holiday season easier to handle. Remember that grieving takes energy, so be realistic with your expectations and allow yourself to choose those activities that are most meaningful to you.

PLAN:  Acknowledge that this holiday will be different. Planning is better than a “wait and see” approach.

  • Decide what you can or wish to handle and let family and friends know
  • Prepare responses to questions about how you are doing and how to answer greetings
  • Decide what traditions will stay the same and what will change
  • Consider spending the holiday in a different location
  • Take time for your own self-care and take time to grieve
  • Give yourself permission to cut back on holiday decorations, preparations and gift-giving


  • Spend time with people whose company you enjoy, leave an event early, bow out if you need to
  • Make a list of things you would appreciate help with, and use it when family and friends ask if you would like some help
  • Make a shopping list ahead of time so that you can shop on a “good day.”
  • Attend a candlelight memorial service
  • Buy a special decoration for the tree in memory of your loved one
  • Hang a stocking for your loved one and have family and friends fill it with special memories
  • Attend a religious service at a different place or time
  • Place a decoration at the gravesite, or decorate a memorial tree
  • Consider having dinner at an alternative location or time
  • Light a special candle for the table centrepiece in memory of your loved one
  • Propose a toast to the memory of your loved one, and invite sharing of memories
  • Give a gift in memory of your loved one.