Coping With Grief Through Christmas

For some, the anticipation and arrival of Christmastime might not be as merry. These are some popular Yuletide traditions and what to be mindful of, when intending to comfort someone who’s grieving during this season:

Christmas Cards

Although most people try to avoid the subject altogether by sending out generic cheerful Christmas cards, it actually comforts the bereaved to see a mention of acknowledgement in greeting cards about the person they are still grieving over.

This lets the bereaved know that their grief, and the person they still mourn, are not forgotten nor ignored, especially in typically joyful seasons such as Christmas.

Carolling or House Calls

Well-wishers may intend to cheer up the bereaved by showing up unannounced at their doorsteps and carolling happy hymns. However, this can be like rubbing salt in the still-open wounds of those who grieve.

It would be wise to make an appointment before visiting. Give the bereaved the option of choosing what songs to be sung to.

Gift Exchanges

Friends and family hoping to brighten the hearts of the bereaved with aesthetically pleasing (or sometimes mandatory, if drawing lots are involved) presents might unintentionally inflict more pain instead of healing.

Try to tone down the overall style of the Christmas gift, and provide something practical that the bereaved would most likely need to use for day-to-day living (like toiletries).

Festive Gatherings

At a time when get-togethers are common, extending invitations to the bereaved would provide them with an option to not wallow alone in their sorrows over Christmas.

Accompanying the bereaved to such invitations would help them feel more welcome. However, it is vital to respect the decisions of the bereaved, should they decline.

Christmas Meals

Certain types of food and beverages can trigger intense memory flashbacks for the bereaved. These types differ from person to person (depending on their personal past experiences with loved ones).

So, it would be polite to ask specifically (patiently, without insisting) what types of food and beverages the bereaved would rather avoid when inviting them to Christmas-related meals.

Christmas or Christmas Eve Church Services

If the bereaved have made the effort to attend services on the Eve or Christmas itself, please bear in mind that this is already a big step for them.

This is because they will have to encounter friends and family, many of whom are in high spirits, which can be painful for the bereaved to look at, because it will remind them of the joy that they themselves lack during this season.

Keeping Christmas greetings and interactions with them neutral or sympathetic, would help the bereaved feel more included as part of the church, despite their pain.


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