Coping with grief at Christmas

Christmas can be a time of mixed emotions for many of us. While, for some people, it’s a time of joy, love, and togetherness, for others, it can be very overwhelming because of heightened expectations and pressure to conform to the traditional holiday norms. For those who have been recently bereaved, this can be an especially challenging time. Some of these people may be approaching their first Christmas without a loved one. Here are some tips and guidance on how you can celebrate Christmas in a way that feels right for you, without the weight of others’ expectations.

  1. Grieving and Coping:

The first Christmas after the death of someone special can be an incredibly emotional and overwhelming experience. Grief doesn’t follow a set timeline, and it’s important to acknowledge that everyone grieves differently. For some, it may feel difficult to carry on with all the usual traditions, from sending out cards to buying gifts for extended family members. The thought of not including your loved one’s name on a card can be a painful reminder of their absence. Others may choose to embrace the full Christmas experience as a way of coping. They may invite lots of friends and family around to keep themselves busy as a way of coping.

  1. Embracing a Different Approach:

It’s important to remember that it’s perfectly okay to approach Christmas differently during this challenging time. You don’t have to conform to other people’s expectations or traditions if they don’t bring you comfort. If sending out cards or buying gifts feels like a burden, take a step back. Instead, consider finding alternative ways to honour and remember your loved one. Light a candle in their memory, create a scrapbook, or simply spend a quiet moment reminiscing about the happy times you shared. Once you’ve had a think about how you want to approach the holiday season, you may find it helpful to be open with those close to you. Having conversations with friends and family about how you feel and what your plans are can help everyone support you in ways which are sensitive to your grief.

  1. Nurturing Yourself:

The importance of self-care during this period cannot be emphasised enough. Do what feels right for you. This might mean opting for a smaller, more intimate gathering, or even choosing not to celebrate Christmas at all. Remember that it’s okay to take time for yourself and prioritise your emotional well-being.

  1. Balancing for Young Children:

If there are young children in the family, their excitement for Christmas may still be palpable, even in the absence of a loved one. Reassure them it’s okay to have fun, even though someone has died. Consider discussing with them how you’d like to approach the festivities and find ways to include them in the process.

  1. Creating New Traditions:

If you are trying to navigate the first Christmas without your loved one, consider creating new traditions that pay tribute to their memory. Light a special candle, visit a place they loved, or cook a favourite family recipe. There’s some ideas here:


The first Christmas without a loved one is undoubtedly a poignant and challenging time, but it’s essential to remember that there’s no right or wrong way to celebrate during this period. It’s okay to deviate from the norm and protect your own well-being. Whether you choose to celebrate quietly or embrace the joy of the season, know that this is all normal and that there many others going through a similar experience.

For support and guidance on supporting a bereaved child – click on this link