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3 Ways to Deal with Grief this Holiday Season

When everything isn't merry and bright this season, find hope in what matters most.
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Last Updated
April 22, 2019
posted on
December 22, 2021
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5 min
Minute Read

The holidays surface a lot of emotion in us, especially if you’re in a season of grieving, whether you are grieving the loss of a loved one or a different type of loss, such as a job, a home, a friend. You may find yourself canceling the family gathering this year yet again due to Covid and the omicron variant, or perhaps you’re not able to gather as you had hoped—with everyone in one place.

No matter what you’re grieving, the Christmas season tends to intensify feelings of loss.

When we see delight around us, we are reminded of what we don’t have. I ache for my mother and father at Christmas. Christmas day was my father’s favorite day of the year, and he spent months thinking of unique gifts for each of us. My mother decorated every nook and cranny of our home. I see the look on their faces when we came down Christmas morning. I see my nephew sitting on my dad’s lap.

We ache for what we have no more, and we mourn what we never had—these are the roots of sadness at Christmas.

If you find yourself feeling more sad than jolly right now, know you are not alone. And also know that you have hope. When the grief hits you and you’re not sure what to do, choose one of three options: slow down, look up, or look out.

Slow Down

Don’t try to tackle it all this holiday. You can’t. Your body is tired from the emotional toll of grief. Cut back on the holiday activities and parties and make sure each day you do something that recharges you. Go on a walk, talk to a friend, get coffee at your favorite coffee shop—whatever brings you peace and joy, make time for it every day. Trust me, the family you’re hosting can do without you for half an hour.

Look Up

If you’ve been following me for a while, you probably know that I have a strong faith. I don’t always talk about it so openly, but I believe that God is real and that he sent himself in the person of his son Jesus to communicate his love to you and to me. This is the message of Christmas. And this is why Christmas, the season that causes so much pain to surface, is also what can be the greatest healer of that pain.

Even if you’re not religious, I encourage you to try expressing your sadness and burdens with God. It might feel weird or awkward, but I know you will feel a little bit better after. We weren’t meant to carry the weight of the world on our shoulders. Surrender your burdens to something greater than you.

Look Out

It’s tempting when we’re grieving to keep everything in and not share our pain with others. We think they won’t understand, or we worry that we’ll burden them. But as the late bell hooks wrote, “Rarely, if ever, are any of us healed in isolation. Healing is an act of communion.”  

When we’re in grief, one of the best things we can do is look out and reach out–to those around us. 

My online parenting community Parenting Great Kids (PGK) is a great place to start. Our message board allows you to connect with other parents, some of whom are probably going through the same thing you are. You can join us here. When you join, you not only get access to this amazing community, you also get access to all of my parenting courses, resources, and insider tips. Click here to learn more and join today.

Friends, even if you are hurting this Christmas, I hope you are able to find joy. I hope you find community. And most of all, I hope you find the reason for this season: God’s son and our hope, Jesus.

Dr. Meg Meeker, MD

Practicing pediatrician, parent, grandparent, coach, speaker, and author. Say hello @MegMeekerMD

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