Grief during the Holidays


Grief & Holidays Messages

Dr. Pam McDermott has been gracious to create a message to share with you during the holiday season

We appreciate Dr. Pam McDermott, our Psychosocial Support Volunteer for creating these meaningful messages.

Grief and Holidays : “Holidays are hard at the best of times, partly because they emphasize what is missing in our lives.  At times of loss or pending loss, this absence is amplified.  The sorrow that results from loss cannot be ignored nor drank, eaten nor partied away.  It is just there to be acknowledged and lived through, always being conscious of what is still present.”

Grief and Holidays : “There is no wrong way to grieve during the holidays, except perhaps pretending nothing has happened.  Everyone’s experience this year will likely be dramatically different due to COVID 19.  Whether you attempt to keep the same traditions, change them completely, add a new ritual, allow the loss (or pending loss) to be present.  Live as fully as you can, even though your heart is broken. “

Grief and Holidays : “The origin of the word “holiday” is Holy Day, a day of significance usually in a religious sense, or in modern times, a period of rest and restoration.  The word “holy” itself actually stems from the Holly plant considered sacred in Celtic and pre-Christian times.  Even in the face of death and loss, we can experience the holidays as time in which we honour this loss and the unique and special place the loved ones have in our hearts.”

10 Simple Ideas to Help You Through Christmas Grief


  1. You don’t have to face your grief alone.  You can turn to loved ones for companionship and comfort.

  2. Seek a balance between time alone and time with others.  Moments of solitude are helpful, but isolation isn’t. Reach out to a friend when you just need to talk.

  3. When you’re feeling low, a simple diversion can be good for the spirit.  Watch a movie or curl up with a good book if it suits you.

  4. Attending a children’s Christmas show at a local school might bring a smile, and that’s not a bad thing.

  5. Serving those less fortunate at the holidays helps us recall our blessings, even at a time of loss. And our loss gives us extra compassion for others who are hurting.

  6. Some days, putting one foot in front of the other is all you can . But it’s enough. Go for a long walk when you’re feeling down.

  7. Christmas worship services are filled with warmth and color that can soothe a hurting heart.   Ask a friend to accompany you to a service.

  8. Remember that it’s okay to change or even skip some traditions this year.  If you’d rather wait until later to exchange gifts, loved ones will understand.

  9. Find a way to memorialize your loss this Christmas.   It could be as simple as putting a loved one’s name on a stocking and hanging it on the mantle. Or perhaps you’ll want to plant an evergreen in the garden.

  10. A gift in your loved one’s name to a charity will help needy families express their love to their children at the holidays, and it will help you feel better, too.

Source: “Grieving at Christmastime” An Elf-Help  book by Dwight Daniels

Resources during the Holiday Season

Canadian Virtual Hospice

Kids Grief Webinar: webinar about grief and the holidays with children’s grief expert Andrea Warnick, you can watch the recording by clicking the below link.


“Holiday Grief: When The First Holiday Is NOT The Worst Holiday”
Article from the website: “What’s Your Grief”
Read the full article:

The following publications are available at Hospice Huntsville:

A Not So Jolly Christmas

Author:  Dr. Bill Webster
This 16 page booklet suggest why Christmas is so difficult and provides several ”Helpful Hints for Handling the Holidays”. We have put high expectations on Christmas as the ”season to be jolly” and when THIS Christmas is different because someone we care about is missing, we struggle with our feelings.

CareNotes Publications:

How Christmas Memories Can Bring Healing to Your Grief 
Author: Karen Katafiasz

How Holiday Traditions Help Heal Your Grief  Author: Daniel Grippo

Celebrating Your Last Christmas with a Loved One  Author: M. Donna MacLeod

Coping with Holiday Stress  Author: Therese J. Borchard

Christmas: A Time to Remember Those We’ve Loved and Lost
Author: Patricia Normile