Navigating Grief at Christmas

Christmas is often seen as a time of joy and togetherness. However, for those experiencing grief, it can amplify feelings of loss and sadness. Understanding and managing grief during this period is crucial for mental wellbeing.


What is grief?

Grief is a natural emotional response to loss. It’s not just about the death of a loved one; it can also arise from the loss of a relationship, job, or any significant life change. Grief encompasses a range of feelings, including sadness, anger, guilt, and confusion. It’s a highly individual experience, with no “right” way to grieve.

This season can bring a sense of isolation and loneliness for those grieving, as the world around them seems to celebrate.


Christmas can intensify grief. The emphasis on family, traditions, and joy can serve as stark reminders of what has been lost.


Common Feelings in Grief

During grief, especially during the festive season, we might experience:

  • Intense sadness: Missing loved ones or past experiences.
  • Loneliness: Feeling isolated in their pain, even in company.
  • Guilt: For experiencing moments of joy or for perceived shortcomings in the relationship lost.
  • Anger: Towards themselves, others, or the situation causing the grief.
  • Nostalgia: A longing for past celebrations and traditions.

Tips on How to Deal with Grief at Christmas

Acknowledge Your Feelings: Recognise that it’s okay to feel sad or angry. Suppressing emotions can lead to more intense feelings later on. Accept that grief can bring a range of emotions, and it’s okay to not feel festive.

Create New Traditions: While honouring past traditions is important, creating new ones can provide a sense of renewal and forward movement. It might be something simple like lighting a candle in memory, or starting a new holiday activity.

Reach Out for Support: Isolation can exacerbate grief. Reaching out to friends, family, or support groups can provide comfort. Sharing memories and feelings with those who understand can be healing.

Set Boundaries: It’s okay to say no to events or activities that feel overwhelming. Prioritise self-care and don’t feel pressured to engage in every holiday activity.

Take Care of Yourself: Engaging in self-care practices is crucial. This includes adequate rest, nourishment, and activities that bring comfort or relaxation, like reading, walking, or listening to music.

Seek Professional Help: If grief becomes overwhelming, seeking the help of a mental health professional can be beneficial. Therapy can provide strategies to cope and process emotions in a healthy way.

Honour Your Loved One: Find ways to include the memory of the lost one in your celebration. It could be through sharing stories, looking at pictures, or dedicating a part of the celebration to them.

Allow Joy: Feeling moments of joy or laughter does not mean you are forgetting your loss. Allow yourself to experience happiness without guilt.

Plan Ahead: Anticipate difficult moments and plan how to handle them. Having a plan can provide a sense of control and security.

Be Patient with Yourself: Grief doesn’t follow a timetable. Be gentle and patient with yourself as you navigate through these emotions.

Grieving during Christmas is a challenging experience. It’s essential to acknowledge and respect your feelings while finding ways to navigate the season in a way that feels right for you.

Remember, seeking help and support is a sign of strength, not weakness. This Christmas, give yourself the gift of kindness and understanding as you journey through your grief.