Coping with Grief at Xmas.  21 Survival Tips for the Holiday Season

woman feeling grief at xmas wearing a santa hat

The emotions of grief are in roller coaster mode on many family occasions but Christmas can be a huge challenge for many of those who are bereaved. It can be really tough to watch others enjoying themselves when all you feel like doing is crawling into a ball and hiding.  

Christmas can bring back painful memories of happy times that you might not be ready to face just yet.  It involves a lot of thinking, planning and organising that you probably don't have the energy to do at the moment. But it will help you if you make the effort to keep busy and join in if you can.   

So here is our survival guide for getting through grief at Xmas time.  

Coping with Grief at Xmas - 21 Survival Tips  

  1. Planning - Being prepared to face the festive season is the best way to cope. Make decisions about what you want to do and what you can or can't face. 
  2. Concentrate on making it happy for your family.  Those who have family can aim to think about them and make it a happy time for children who are always excited at this time. Join in any family invitations as much as possible. Stay for as long or short a time as you feel comfortable. 
  3. Don't be afraid to say no if certain events are just too much. 
  4. Keep busy with shopping for gifts for the family. 
  5. Do some cooking and prepare some delicious Christmas fare for your friends and family.
  6. Change the routine - Many families prefer to have a different venue for the Christmas Day get together from previous years after the loss of a loved one. New memories are created, new traditions started.
  7. Get together with friends, church or hobby groups for all their events.  Feeling involved will help take your mind off your own problems.
  8. Consider volunteering - There are many charity events at churches and charities which need helpers. It all stops negative thoughts creeping in and makes you feel useful. 
  9. If you don't have family, invite a friend to stay or go on a special Christmas trip.  There are many other lonely people who would appreciate your company. There are holidays for singles of all age groups.
  10. Don't be afraid to let people know how you are feeling. Tears are never far away, so do not worry about this.  People do understand and are there to support you and have you laughing again soon.
  11. Think about your loved one in a positive way.  Share how they would have enjoyed this time and don't be scared to talk about them.
  12. Remain positive and tell yourself; "I can and will cope with this; I will enjoy this festive season for my family and my lost loved one." They would not want you to be miserable.
  13. Give yourself permission to be happy again, it does not mean that your love was any less.  Love makes us stronger and able to cope with life after loss.
  14. Eat well and get some exercise each day.  That will help you to fend off negative feelings too.  
  15. Try not to drink too much.  Alcohol can be a depressant and can make you feel worse. 
  16. Read many pages on this website on coping with grief and all the ways of looking after your personal health and well-being.  
  17. Write down your feelings in a journal or confide in a good friend.  If you get a lot of grief off your chest, you will be able to put on a brave face and be cheerful for friends and family.  
  18. Treat yourself to some pampering.  Have a spa or a massage.  Do something relaxing just for you.  It is Christmas afterall and you deserve it. 
  19. Try yoga or a hypnotherapy session to calm your mind and give you the strength to face the Xmas season. 
  20. If you don't want to do Xmas, don't worry about what other people will think, just do what feels right for you.  But try not to spend it alone feeling sorry for yourself.  
  21. If you are feeling low and anxious all the time and really can't face Xmas, then perhaps consider whether you need some professional support.  Read about the online counselling services we recommend.  You deserve to get the help you need, especially at Christmas.  

Good luck surviving grief and Xmas!  It won't be long before it is, once again, a season of joy. 

Related Pages: 

Read more about Grief and the Holidays

Learn more about Dealing with Grief

Read our Frequently Asked Questions about Bereavement

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Self-Help Hypnosis Downloads

Try a gentle hypnotherapy track to relax the mind and help you cope with your grief. We recommend Hypnosis Downloads which have been created especially for those who are grieving by qualified specialists in medical hypnotherapy.

Choose from this list of grief and loss tracks for your specific type of loss.  


Memorial Magnolia Tree

The Magnolia is one of the earth's oldest plants, with a spectacular flower which dates back 95 million years.  What a beautiful specimen to commemorate a life. 

These trees are grown by the foremost magnolia nursery in the USA and they will send a variety most suited to the recipient's climate. 

The flowers in spring will bring joy to the bereaved and help to heal their heart.

Only available in the USA. 

For Memorial Trees within the UK, click here

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