Christmas Grief

10 Helpful Tips for Coping with Grief at Christmas

It’s supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year, right? Christmas lights and decorations adorn your neighborhood. Churches down the street prepare for special programs and concerts. Festive, glitter-covered cards fill your mailbox. However, those typically wonderful features of the Christmas season might instead cause your heart to hurt. After the loss of a loved one, the season may feel far from “wonderful.” So how do you navigate through your grief in what’s supposed to be the most joyous time of the year? Kelly Erola of Lower Cape Fear LifeCare in Wilmington offers the following tips for walking through this difficult time of year. Then, artist Anne Wilson has a song that may be exactly what you need to hear.


Accept your feelings

It’s ok to feel sad. Erola encourages you to be honest with yourself about what you’re feeling and even write it down. Your sadness or pain isn’t something to be ashamed of, so allow yourself to express them without guilt. In addition, remember that God is big enough to handle your feelings, too.

Share your feelings with family and close friends

Erola reminds those experiencing grief at Christmas that it’s important to stay connected. Use whatever preferred method, in-person or using technology, to reach out to your loved ones and communicate your needs. Don’t wait for others to initiate conversation. In fact, this could be a great time for you to connect with others who are feeling alone this time of year, too.

Talk about your deceased loved one

Those around you may feel like mentioning your loved one during this time may cause pain. However, Erola encourages you to reminisce and do special things to memorialize your lost loved one. Speak candidly about your loved one, and include their name in your Christmas conversations.

Be gentle with yourself

Throughout the Christmas season, you may agree to attend various events, but then change your mind as the event nears. Erola wants you to know that it’s ok. “Give yourself permission to not live up to the expectations of others, or perhaps even your expectations of yourself,” she says. Practicing self care like walking, reading, and meditation is also a way to be gentle with yourself.

Change what needs to be changed

Change Traditions Grief

For some experiencing grief at Christmas, sticking to traditions may offer comfort during the season. However, if that idea sounds painful to you, you’re allowed to change your routines. You might consider changing what holiday church services you attend, what to make for your family meal, or even when and where you do your gift exchange. Afterward, you can reflect on your holiday season and decide if you’d like to keep that change or return to your normal routines next year.

RELATED: What Does the Bible Say About Grief? Where’s the Hope?

Set limitations

This Christmas will be difficult one, so don’t over-obligate yourself. Do the things that are most important to you, but don’t afraid to ask for help or delegate some holiday activities like wrapping gifts. If there’s a financial strain, consider limiting the number of gifts you can give.

Explore and express your faith

Both death and the Christmas season tend to spark theological questions. If you’re struggling with your faith after loss, speak to your pastor. Ask the difficult questions, expressing your thoughts, feelings and even your doubts. Your pastor can offer you the help and support that could deepen your faith in this difficult season.

RELATED: Cain’s Christmas Song Reminds Us He Is Indeed “Wonderful”

Tap into your creativity

Christmas Baking Grief

According to Erola, grief can result in a loss of creativity. Thankfully, the Christmas season provides endless opportunities to be creative, including cooking or crafting. Consider making something your loved one enjoyed and sharing that creative time with others in your household.

RELATED: 7 Christmas Recipes You’ll Love to Share

Celebrate you

While it’s been a tough year, Erola encourages you to focus on your strengths, past successes, and healthy coping skills you’ve learned. Remind yourself of the good things you have and the great things God has done in your life.

Help others

Opportunities to help others during the Christmas season abound! Erola suggests making time to invest in others as a way to take the focus off your grief. Volunteering a food bank or adopting a senior in need are great ways to make a better Christmas for both you and the recipient of your help.


If you’re grieving today, please know that you are loved by your Life 90.5 and your Heavenly Father. You’re also not alone. Artist Anne Wilson is no stranger to grief at Christmas. It’s our hope that you’ll find encouragement to still encounter your Savior this Christmas season.

Bring your wounded heart to the manger
Fall down at the feet of the King
When thrills of hope don’t find you
He loves you just the same
You don’t have to be OK
Just because it’s Christmas


Do you need more help getting through this holiday season with your grief? We encourage you to contact our friends at Lower Cape Fear LifeCare.

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