How To Deal With Grief During The Holidays

The holidays are the one time of year where people put aside everything in life to be with their friends and family. Life goes on hold for a little bit it seems and we’re able to live in the moment and be with the ones we love. In a perfect world, that’s what would happen. That perfect world doesn’t involve families fighting, it doesn’t involve money struggles, it doesn’t involve a world where your loved ones aren’t around for the holidays.

Let’s be real, the holidays aren’t easy for some of us. It’s the one time of year when the world truly embraces quality time with loved ones. That being said, it’s also the time of year when you focus on those who should still be here. It’s so incredibly hard when you’ve lost someone you love to not focus on only that this time of year.

As much as I love showcasing fun Christmas recipes and putting out positive messages into the world, I wanted to take some time to talk about grief. Now, I can only speak from my personal experience. I know everyone handles situations differently and everyone has their own unique story. But, I’m hoping by sharing some of my experience that it will help someone out there.

I lost my parents when I was in high school and the holidays haven’t been the same since. It’s hard to get into the holiday spirit when there are so many reminders of the past. For anyone out there that this is your first holiday season without a loved one, I’m truly sorry. The first holiday season is by far the hardest. It doesn’t ever get easier but it becomes your new normal so it’s less different and shocking.

The pain of losing people you love is heightened whenever your family is together. It’s hard to not notice the empty spot, the empty laugher, the emptiness you feel. And it can feel so isolating if you let it. Everyone around you is wrapped up in asking for this for Christmas or stressing about finding the perfect gift. Meanwhile, you’re just trying to hold it together. How can anyone possibly understand what you’re feeling?

I’m not a grief counselor and if you’re truly struggling, I recommend going to see one. Grief is not something you have to deal with alone and there are so many wonderful professionals out there to help. I did want to share what I do during the holiday’s to help ease the pain of a loss.


Talk about your loved one– it may seem so basic but it was something I was scared to do for a long time. Everyone around you is hurting, everyone around you feels the loss. It may feel like talking about your lost person will make everyone hurt more, but trust me, it doesn’t. Chances are, they’re feeling the same way you are. So don’t be afraid to address the sadness is the room. Share memories because that’s the only way you have to connect with the person you lost. Remember the good times. Yes- it hurts to talk about and remember but it also hurts to not talk about it.

Continue on with some traditions– another tip that may seem too difficult to do. How can you continue with something when that person who was the center of it is no longer there? Won’t it make you miss them even more? In my experience, it is already a big enough shock of not having your loved one there. It’s even harder if you totally change all of your Christmas traditions too.

Practice gratitude– if you follow me on Instagram, you know this is a subject I talk about a lot. It seems ridiculous- after losing someone you love, what do you have to be grateful for? Honestly, the first Christmas without my mom- there was no way I could have practiced gratitude. The pain was too real and too raw to be able to look past. But in the past few years, it has really helped me to look at all that I still have. To be able to count how many blessings I still have in my life gives me a reason to celebrate still.

Know that it’s okay to not be okay- Losing someone you love is one of the hardest things in this world. No matter if it’s your first holiday season without them or your seventh, it’s difficult. You don’t have to hold it together all of the time. You don’t have to be strong. You don’t have to be some perfect person who handles life’s challenges with a smile on your face.

Get angry, get upset, cry, be frustrated- those are normal emotions. Holding them in only heightens the feeling, it doesn’t make it go away. Reach out to someone you love, someone you trust, or a professional. You do not have to go through this alone. 

Make New Memories- this is the toughest one for me to write. I almost left it out because it is soul crushing to think about it. But it’s true. You have to be able to make new memories, to do all of the above things but also accept that life goes on. Don’t feel guilty about that. Your loved one would want you to be happy and enjoy life.

Start a new tradition, if you can afford to go away for the holiday- do it, join in with a friend’s family. In the past I’ve done all of these things. There is definitely a guilt and sadness hidden in there, but also a sense of empowerment that you are NOT letting life’s hardships get in the way of you living. You deserve to enjoy your time in this world.

I know this is some pretty heavy stuff and I honestly had a really hard time writing it. I am not looking for sympathy in writing this. The purpose behind this post is to show another side of the holiday season, to make others feel less alone, and to hopefully provide a few ways to ease the pain. I love and appreciate this community so much. Thanks for letting me share my heart.



Written in memory of these two angels: