Grief During the Holidays

The holidays are supposed to be a joyful time, but if you’ve recently lost someone, it can be a difficult time.

Q I recently lost my dad. He lived a long life, but the holidays without him will feel empty. What are some ways to cope?

A There are different ways to cope, but some key ways include:

  • Letting yourself feel your sadness. If you want to cry, cry. Expressing your grief is part of the healing process. Don’t judge yourself.
  • Make time to be with others. While part of the grieving process is a solo act, it is important not to isolate yourself, particularly during the holidays. So make an extra effort to meet with friends occasionally, if even for a short amount of time. Also, consider joining a local bereavement group.
  • Be gentle with yourself.
  • Don’t do more than you can handle. During the holidays, this may mean you don’t attend every holiday party you’re invited to. And for the get-togethers you do manage to attend, you don’t need to stay long. Allow yourself a wide berth this year; this is not the time to “push” yourself.
  • Drink alcohol in moderation. Imbibing during the holidays is very popular, but alcohol is a depressant, so watch your intake.
  • Even if you don’t usually journal, putting pen to paper is a cathartic way to express your range of emotions.
  • Take a bath, it’s known for reducing stress physically and mentally.
  • If you’re having a really off day, it’s ok to make a cup of tea, snuggle with your pet – and take a mental health day.

Q I lost a loved one six months ago. I’m still incredibly sad, but part of me wants to start going out again, especially now that it’s the holidays. But I also feel guilty. Is it wrong for me to celebrate, even a little, so soon after my friend’s death?

A Guilt is actually a very common feeling after a loved one passes away, but you shouldn’t feel guilty at all for wanting to celebrate the holidays. It is a way to bring back some normalcy to your life, and very life-affirming, which is ultimately the key to getting through your grief long-term – a very healthy goal to have.

  1. How do I handle traditions?
  2. It can be difficult to carry on traditions after losing a love one. This time may be a good time to look at which traditions you want to carry on and perhaps it’s a time to create new ones. It’s a safe time to explore what works for you. Don’t be afraid to create a tradition that includes honoring the memory of your loved one.

This information is for educational purposes. Please consult your physician for any medical issues. The Visiting Nurse Association (VNA) is committed to bringing trusted and quality private and home health care to Brevard County patients from Titusville to Barefoot Bay.

For more information about VNA services, call 321-752-7550 or visit