What are your tips for coping with grief at Christmas?

The festive season can be a really tough time when you’ve lost a loved one. While everyone else is celebrating, you may be missing that special person more than ever. What are you planning to do to get through the Christmas period this year? Do you have any tips or ideas on how to cope? Post a reply to share them with the community.

Here are some ideas that people have found helpful in the past:

  • Find ways to celebrate their life: you could ‘raise a glass’, light a candle, or share favourite memories.
  • Don’t feel obliged to join in with the celebrations - it’s ok to simplify plans and only commit to things you want to do.
  • If your old traditions and rituals seem too sad this year, you might choose to do something very different or spend Christmas somewhere else.

Hello this Xmas is going to be very hard , each time one of my daughter’s come round we end up teary eyed my first Xmas without my husband their first one without their dad , So we have decided what ever we normally did we will not do this year everything will be done different so there are no obvious reminders hopefully it won’t be quite as painful we all want 2017 to be gone and forgotten and 2018 to be a new year where we can pick ourselves up and leave some of the pain behind merry Xmas and I hope the new year brings you the strength you need to try to look forward vonn x


Hi Vonn,

The first Christmas is miserable and I think you are doing just the right thing to do everything differently this year. I remember when my Dad passed away years ago we carried on the same routine, I went back to work after and one of my colleagues asked how I was. I burst into tears because she was so kind, understood and had realised how hard it must have been for me.

Last year was the first since losing Mum and we went to a hotel, something we had never done before for Christmas. Not a huge success but no matter. For me this year is worse as the reality has sunk in now. Think I was still in shock last year. Somehow we will get through the next few weeks. Just wish I could hibernate with my tortoise and wake up in the spring to nicer weather and some spring flowers.


1 Like

Thanks Vonn and Mel for sharing your experiences - I hope you get through the Christmas season as well as possible this year.

The bereavement team at one of our hospices have put together some more suggestions that people might find helpful.

  • People grieve in different ways, so you might find it helpful to discuss with the rest of the family in advance how all of you prefer to spend the Christmas period.
  • Remember it’s OK to be happy and enjoy yourself - but it’s also OK to grieve and to
    feel sad.
  • You might like to visit their memorial or favourite place, or play their favourite
    song to show you are thinking of them.
  • It’s important to involve and support children: they could make something to
    hang on the Christmas tree or light a special candle. If you go on a festive walk children could carry a balloon in remembrance.
  • Consider making a charitable donation or volunteering for their favourite
  • You can also help others by getting involved in the Sue Ryder social media
    campaign #facinglosstogether. Post a piece of advice (using the hashtag) on
    social media on what’s helping you cope, or how you’re remembering your
    loved one, over the festive period.

Hi all,

I am dreading Christmas as Mum died in August and she always came to us to celebrate. I still cry every day as I miss her so much.

We have decided to change what we do this year like having Christmas dinner in the evening and going out on Boxing Day.

We have simplified the whole thing to reduce the number of people I have to face. I feel that I want to be able to grieve over the holiday period and I don’t know how I am going to actually feel yet.

Any tips are most welcome. I cannot get motivated to do anything - no presents bought yet and no cards written.

Thanks in advance,


Hi Caroline, I can understand how you are feeling It is six months to the day that my wife died. She loved Xmas and imersed herself into the festivities. She enjoyed all the shopping for presents and buying food for the family and grandchildren. I have tried to keep the traditions going such as writing all the cards, buying presents for everyone and I am taking Xmas food treats to my sons family. However, I seem to swing from coping to grieving every bit as bad as in the early days. I am trying to join in local activities but the loneliness and memories are so intense at this time of year. I hope I can be stronger in the New Year and learn to live with my loss. I hope the start of the New year is better for you.



1 Like

Hi Harvey,

Thank you for taking the time to reply. I am so sorry for your loss - to lose your wife must be devastating. I am trying to get on with it and see how it goes - did some shopping yesterday and felt ok about it.

I admire you for trying to keep traditions going and actually I think that is possibly the best way to get through it. I am hopeful that the new year will bring some closure and give me the incentive to move forward.

I hope you have a good Christmas- as good as it can be under the circumstances- and that 2018 is kinder to you too.

Kind regards,


1 Like

Hi guys well my wife of 46yrs passed nine months ago, as was expected. She insisted we carry on as normal. She loved Christmas, and was all what Christmas was about with family. We know she is with us in spirit, so Christmas is as usual, to include her in everything. Grandchildren dressed grave stone with tinsel and cards to Nana. Her favourite xmas novelties around her photo at home, and we will be raising our glasses to her on the day.
Theres a time for grieving, but, theres also the time to reflect, and celebrate happy Christmases of the past, and the present, and see the innocent smiles and joy on children’s faces.
Its going to be emotional. but, if we ban Christmas this year, do we ban it next year, and the year after that? Do we ban Easter? ect…I know my late wife would perish the thought!..John


I think it’s perfectly ok for you to not be motivated for Christmas. It’s the season to be kind and compassionate, so be kind and compassionate to yourself first. …you can forget about getting involved. Or make it really simple…if you feel you want to give something…give people money and be honest and say you had no heart for the season this year etc etc…you will find people will appreciate your honesty and be sympathetic. If anyone doesn’t then they aren’t your friend and you don’t need them anyway. Xxx

1 Like

Hi Harvey
Your wife sounds very much my husband his name was George he passed on the 26th of November this year he took a massive heart attack on October and was in hospital till his passing .
He talked about chrismas and making sure that I had got the gifts in for the grandchildren he loved everything about Christmas it he always made a big thing about the food daft gifts music .
We were together for 30 years I stayed with my son and the rest of our family came for dinner my husband would have loved it there were a great many tears but there was also laughter with my kids remembering past Christmas with there dad .
I know there is a massive journey in front of me and every one in the same position I just pray that with support love and care we all travel to a time we can all look back and smile with our memories .

Back to top