Grief is hard at any time of year, and special events like Christmas, Hannukah, Diwali, Eid al-fitr - or birthdays and anniversaries - can be particularly challenging. 

Whether or not this is your first year without a loved one, you may find that your grief is more acute during the festive season. And as we all adjust to life after the pandemic, and navigate our way through the current cost of living crisis, the thought of celebrating without them can be daunting. 

If you or someone you know is struggling with grief this holiday season, here are some coping strategies to help.

This page takes around 2 minutes to read.

1. Talk to friends and family


We all grieve in different ways and you may need to let them know about your feelings or worries. 

2. Include the person in some way


Perhaps light a candle or raise a toast; listen to their favourite music or read a poem. It can be daunting, but don't be afraid about bringing them up, or worry about someone else bringing them up.

3. Give people permission to talk about the person


Family and friends might be frightened of upsetting you, so you can let them know it's healthy, normal and helpful for you to share memories.

4. Enjoy the company of others


People can feel guilty about having fun with friends and family, but there is no expectation for you to be sad all the time. We all grieve, remember and celebrate life in different ways.

5. It's OK to change your plans


Explain to friends and family that you might need to change your plans at the last minute. Grief can come in waves and it's good to have a safety net, and not feel like you're letting anyone down.

6. Spend time alone - or with others


If you are spending time with others, let them know that you might also like some time alone. And likewise, if you are spending Christmas on your own, you can try to find out what is happening locally – many community groups meet throughout the Christmas period.

7. Be kind to yourself


Important seasonal holidays are just another day - so let your self-compassion replace self-criticism as you balance grief with holiday enjoyment.

Of course, we know that everyone is different so some may work for you, and some may not. But it's important to remember that it is both healthy and normal to grieve, and remember those we have lost.