Hide Page
instagram icon

Coping With Grief At Christmas

Christmas is a time that most people spend with family, friends and loved ones. But seasonal events like this can be a painful reminder of a missing loved one. Here’s some advice on how to deal with your grief.

This blog is a part of our Living With Loss: Grief Campaign
To see more campaign content, click here

Grief is always tough to deal with (if you need help coping with grief, visit our Living with Loss blog), but you might feel it even stronger during times when family and friends naturally get together. Christmas is one of those times, and it doesn’t matter how many weeks, months or years have passed; missing loved ones can feel harder. The feeling of grief can be so strong in the first year following the death of a loved one that you might even find yourself wishing that Christmas would go away. 

Vector image with christmas trees in a row. Front one decorated.

Should you celebrate Christmas?

There is no right or wrong way to deal with grief. You don’t have to celebrate events like Christmas if you don’t want to, but you shouldn’t feel guilty if you choose to carry on marking the occasion. You might worry what other people will think, but it’s a personal choice, and people have to understand and respect this.

The bereavement charity Cruse has lots of tips on how to cope with grief at Christmas, like finding different ways of celebrating, having a routine, finding ways to remember them and taking time for yourself. Find out more here.

Talk to your family and friends about how you’re feeling about Christmas. This will help them understand how you’re experiencing your grief. They will understand better how they can support you.

A heartbroken girl sat with head in lap with broken heart hovering over head

Things to consider

Think about your feelings and plan how you might deal with them if things become overwhelming. Let yourself cry and feel upset if you need to. Give yourself permission to react however you need to at the time.

Know where you can get advice and support if you need it. Talk to family and friends. Support services are also still open over Christmas. Meic doesn’t close, even on Christmas Day, so if you need to talk to someone in confidence, then get in touch. A list of grief support services can be found at the bottom of this blog under ‘Getting Help’.

Young Minds has a blog by Zoe, a young person who shares her experience of Christmas after she lost her brother. She gives lots of tips like finding things to distract you, muting certain triggering words on social media, allowing yourself to feel emotions, and talking.

Sprout vector image for christmas

Listen to other people’s experiences

Lots of people have experienced grief. It might help to talk to them about their first Christmas and how they remember their loved ones at this time of year. It might give you some ideas about how you can remember your loved one. 

If you feel comfortable talking to the people in your life, try it. If not, then look at this Grieving at Christmas blog on Metro. People share their stories of celebrating and remembering loved ones at Christmas. They range from listening to their favourite music, travelling, looking at photos, and eating sprouts (even though they hate them!). You’ll find ideas at the bottom of the blog on ways to remember loved ones at Christmas.

Bauble hanging on a tree branch

Create rituals

You might like to create new rituals that help you remember them, like lighting a candle, getting a special decoration to put on the tree, or doing something that reminds you of them, like watching their favourite film or listening to their favourite song. 

It’s also okay to make new traditions to help ease your grief for a bit. Maybe play games, bake, or go for a walk. 

Remember to be kind to yourself. Be true to what you feel is best for you during your first Christmas without your loved one.

Getting help

Hope Again logo

Hope Again

A youth website by Cruse Bereavement Support. A safe place where you can learn from other young people how to cope with grief and feel less alone. Call the Cruse helpline on 0808 808 1677 between 9:30 and 5pm Monday and Friday and between 9:30 and 8pm Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. Visit their Grieving at Christmas page.

Winston's Wish logo

Winston’s Wish

Helping children, teenagers and young adults to find their feet when their worlds are turned upside down by grief. Their Help 2 Make Sense website has advice, tips, and real-life stories from other grieving young people. Visit their Coping With Grief at Christmas page.

grief encounter logo

Grief Encounter

Supporting bereaved children and young people. The Grieftalk helpline offers confidential, emotional support and guidance to anyone affected by grief. 0808 802 0111 9am-9pm weekdays. Visit their Remembering at Christmas page.

meic logo with a smiling microphone as the i

Talk to Meic

Free and confidential helpline for children and young people up to 25 in Wales. Call our helpline from 8am to midnight every single day: 080 880 23456 or chat to us online. Find out more here about how we can be Here For You Over Christmas and New Year

Meic contact details image