Getting Through the Holidays

Rebecca Geersens, Grief Care Counselor, LMSW, CGP

December 12, 2022

The holidays can be hard enough without the added aspects from grief: from dodging grief triggers; to-do lists a mile long with a serious lack of energy to complete them all; to experiencing a deep longing for the people who aren’t physically here this year, just to name a few.

Our grief care team has a number of resources to share in hopes of finding ways to make this holiday season a little more bearable, including our annual virtual holiday workshop for adults, which you can watch here. We want to share some ideas for getting through the holidays. While we couldn’t possibly share everything in one article, we hope the following information will offer some helpful insights as you plan for the holiday season.

  1. Give yourself permission for this holiday season to look and feel different. You have probably already anticipated feeling different without your loved one(s) here for the holidays; it is just as OK for things to be and look different, too. While in seasons past you may have found enough energy reserves to do all the cooking, shopping, hosting, traveling, or planning, it can be unrealistic to try to hold yourself to those same standards or expectations. Allow yourself time to reflect on what feels most right for you this holiday season, without the pressures or expectations of how these days have historically been spent. Anticipate new feelings – perhaps sadness, longing, or anger – this holiday season and give yourself time to contemplate if you would like to spend the holidays in a different way this year.
  2. You don’t have to pretend that things are the same – because they aren’t. Your special person isn’t here physically and grief is now a guest at your holiday table. You do not have to pretend that the holidays, and life, aren’t irrevocably changed because of the death of your person. This holiday season, consider how you may want to include your departed loved one(s) in your holidays. Some ideas include: setting a place for them at the table, cooking their favorite dish, watching home movies or their favorite movie, getting them a gift, or doing an act of kindness in their honor.
  3. Consider your plan ahead of time. While certainly not the case for each person, often times the anticipation of a day can be harder than the day itself. It can help to spend some time planning for how you would like to spend your day; it can be as grand or quiet as you like – your plan can even be to have no plans other than spending the day in your pajamas watching comfort movies and spending some quiet time alone. Whatever you decide to do is OK (remember tip #1 above), but the point here is to set some time aside to contemplate it ahead of time rather than feeling completely lost when the day arrives. If you wake up on the day of and the plan you made just doesn’t feel right, you can always ditch it for something else in the moment.
  4. Make time for self-care. The holidays are exhausting. Grief is exhausting. Doing both at the same time can be a fast-track to burn out. Self-care is more than taking a bath or going on a trip (though those things are lovely!). Taking care of ourselves includes asking for and accepting help from others, being mindful of how we are speaking to ourselves, engaging in healthy practices like physical movement and eating nutritious foods, and setting and maintaining boundaries to protect peace of mind. Self-care is not always easy, but we hope it can be a priority for everyone in the upcoming holiday season.

We have many other ideas and resources to share pertaining to coping with the holidays and hope you will check out our holiday workshop to hear more of them.


While feelings of grief are normal, handling them can be difficult and painful. Talking about what you are going through can help. Call 734.779.6690 to schedule an appointment. Or visit to check out our grief support calendar with a detailed listing of upcoming support groups.

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