How to cope with grief at Christmas

For many, Christmas is a joyful time of year, and a chance to spend time with the people they hold close. But for those who’ve lost a loved one, Christmas can be an incredibly difficult time.

Although grief will never truly go away, there are ways to ease the feelings of sadness and pain that can creep in when the festive period begins.

This is our guide to coping with grief at Christmas.

Talk about it as a family/friend group

Everyone mourns differently, and we all have our own thoughts and beliefs about how best to grieve. This can lead to conflict among friends and family, so try to be sensitive.

You may find it useful to talk openly with friends and family members about remembering your loved one in a way that suits everybody. Once you understand how you each feel, you may all find it easier to move forward and celebrate Christmas rather than dreading it.

Take a step back

Instead of throwing yourself into the usual Christmas indulgences, it may be worth holding back a little. It can be tempting to drink to numb the pain over the festive period, but alcohol and other substances are temporary solutions, and often end up doing more harm than good.

Equally, taking a break from Christmas TV and social media might help; seeing lots of happy, smiling faces can make Christmas time even harder for some.

Create new Christmas traditions…

It may help to introduce new traditions to honour of the one you’ve lost. It could anything you like – from eating their favourite meal on Christmas Eve to playing their favourite song on Christmas Day, or simply visiting their final resting place.

…Or continue old ones

For some people, continuing traditions can provide a sense of routine that’s helpful when coping with grief and loss over Christmas. Don’t feel guilty – spending time with friends or family over Christmas can be a good way to deal with grief, and you should allow yourself that time.

Don’t feel pressure to continue ‘as normal’

You may not feel like celebrating Christmas this year or going all out like you normally do, and that is fine. Christmas without a loved one isn’t normal, and it won’t be for some time. So don’t put unnecessary pressure on yourself during what is already a difficult time. Instead, do what you feel comfortable with, and take the time you need to grieve and look after yourself.

Get out of the house / Get some fresh air

This may be the last thing you want to do, but grief can be extremely isolating and being cooped up at home will only amplify this. Getting out of the house for a winter walk will allow you time to take a breath and relieve some of the anxiety you may be feeling.

Find ways to connect

Reminiscing on memories shared with a loved one can be really special and a good way to find some connection. It can be comforting to look back at family photographs or play their favourite song over the Christmas period to trigger happy memories during a difficult time.

Ask for help

There is no right way to cope with grief at Christmas and navigating loss at this time of year can be extremely difficult. Opening up to a family member or friend can prevent you from bottling up all those feelings you’re experiencing. So don’t feel ashamed to ask for help and remember that it is always okay.


There is no rulebook that says you must put up a Christmas tree or send Christmas cards, and if your grief is fresh, this may be the last thing you want to do. If this is the case and you’d rather pass on the festivities this year, you might find volunteering to be a helpful distraction and because of its rewarding nature, feel significantly better afterwards.

For more support following the death of a loved one, there are many organisations that can help. Find out more about bereavement support.

How to pick a funeral director

You can be assured that every funeral home that is part of the Funeral Partners family will provide outstanding client service.

Documents and certificates

Certificates you will need to enable you to start arranging the funeral and sorting out the affairs of the person who has died.

Letting people know

Picking up the telephone to tell close family or complete strangers such as an employer about the death is usually difficult.

Further Reading: Arranging a funeral

Read about how funerals are arranged and what services you can expect to get.