Grief and Sadness During the Holidays: You’re Not Alone

by | Dec 23, 2023

The holidays are supposed to be a time of joy and cheer, right? But for many of you, the seasonal festivities only serve as a harsh reminder of what you’ve lost over the past year. Maybe you’re grieving the death of a loved one who was always by your side this time of year. Or you lost your job and are struggling with how to provide for your family. Perhaps depression or loneliness has dampened your holiday spirit. Whatever the reason, know this: you are not alone. Many people find the holidays difficult for a multitude of reasons. But there are ways to find comfort and even joy again. In this blog, we’ll explore tips and strategies to help you overcome feelings of grief and sadness so you can start new traditions and find meaning in the holidays once more. The pain may still linger, but together we can get through this. My podcast, Minded on Mental Health: A CBT Podcast, features an interview with Coach Avic, and the following are some suggestions that I learned from the conversation we had.

Understanding Grief and Sadness During the Holidays

The holidays can be an especially difficult time if you’re grieving. All around you are messages of joy and cheer, while you feel deep sadness. But know this: You’re not alone.

Many people experience feelings of grief, loneliness, and even depression during the holidays for a variety of reasons. Maybe you lost a loved one this year and are facing your first holiday season without them. Or perhaps the loss was years ago, but the pain still returns each year like clockwork. Some people grieve the loss of a job or relationship, or even the loss of happier times.

Whatever the reason for your grief, permit yourself to feel whatever emotions arise. It’s okay to take space from festivities if you need to. Spend time with others who support you. Share happy memories with people who also knew your loved one. Start new traditions to honor them. Help others in need through volunteering or donations.

Don’t isolate yourself. Call a crisis hotline or see a grief counselor. Join an online or in-person support group. Talk to others with similar experiences; it can help reduce feelings of loneliness and normalize your grief.

The holidays will never be the same, but with time and support, the pain will become more bearable. Be gentle with yourself and maintain hope; joy will return, even if in quieter ways. For now, take each day at a time and be proud of each small step forward. You have so much strength within you, even if you can’t feel it yet. There are brighter days ahead, so keep going.

Coping With Feelings of Loneliness

The holidays can be tough when you’re feeling down. Loneliness and grief have a way of hitting hardest when everyone around you seems to be celebrating. But you don’t have to go through this alone.

Reach out to others who understand what you’re going through. Call a friend or family member, or join an online support group. Let people who care about you know that you could use their company. Don’t isolate yourself, even if that’s what you feel like doing.

Stay busy and distracted.

Do small things each day that you usually enjoy, like cooking, reading, or exercising. Keep up routines and schedules as much as possible. Volunteer or donate your time to a good cause. Helping others gets your mind off your worries and boosts your mood and self-esteem.

Make new memories and traditions. It’s normal to feel sad looking at old photos or doing the same holiday rituals you shared with a loved one who is no longer there. Start new traditions that honor the good memories while also moving forward.

Be gentle with yourself. Don’t dwell on what you “should” feel or what you think others expect of you. There’s no right or wrong way to grieve or cope with a loss. Do what feels right for you. Get extra rest, limit social events if you want to, and ask for help when you need it.

The sadness may not completely go away, but there are many resources and coping strategies to help you through. You have so much to offer the world, and there are always alternatives and paths forward, even in your darkest moments. There is still hope and meaning to be found. You just have to hang on until the light returns.

Self-Care Tips for Managing Holiday Stress and Anxiety

The holidays can be an emotional time, especially if you’re grieving or feeling lonely. It’s important to practice self-care. Here are some tips to help you manage stress and find moments of joy this season:

  • Connect with others. Call a friend or family member, join an online support group, or volunteer your time. Making social connections can help combat feelings of sadness or isolation.
  • Limit social media. Comparing yourself to the curated lives of others on social media can intensify feelings of loss or loneliness. Take a break from social platforms and do something to boost your mood, like reading an uplifting book, taking a bath, or exercising.
  • Stick to a routine. Maintaining a regular schedule for sleeping, eating, and activity can provide stability when everything else feels chaotic or painful. Go to bed and wake up at the same time each day, eat healthy meals, and exercise.
  • Say no. Don’t feel obligated to attend every party or event. It’s OK to decline invitations if you’re not up for celebrating. Put your mental health first.
  • Practice self-care. Engage in activities that you find soothing or uplifting, like yoga, meditation, or deep breathing. Take a walk outside in nature. Do small things each day that bring you joy. Be gentle with yourself.

The holidays will look different this year, and that’s OK. Focus on surrounding yourself with love and support. Take things day by day, be kind to yourself, and remember that this difficult time will pass. You have so much wonderful life ahead of you, so for now, do what you need to find moments of light during this season of darkness. Happier days are coming.

Seeking Support From Loved Ones and Professionals

Seeking support from others who care about you can help ease feelings of sadness and loneliness during the holidays. Connecting with loved ones who are also grieving can be particularly comforting.

Reach out to close family and friends

Call or text those closest to you and let them know you’re having a hard time. Ask if they have time to talk or meet up. Sharing stories about happy memories can help lift your spirits. Your true friends will understand you and want to support you.

Consider grief support groups

Grief support groups, whether in-person or online, allow you to connect with others experiencing similar losses. Speaking with people who truly understand what you’re going through can help reduce feelings of isolation. Look for groups in your area or search online for options.

Seek professional help if needed

If feelings of grief and sadness are persistent or intense, consider seeing a grief counselor or mental health professional. Speaking to a professional counselor or therapist can help you work through emotions, provide coping strategies, and find ways to honor your loved one during the holidays.

The most important thing to remember is that you don’t have to go through this difficult time alone. Seeking out compassion and support from others can help bring comfort and ease feelings of loneliness, even during this season of joy. Connecting to your close ones or even to complete strangers who share your grief may be the lifeline you need to make it through the holidays.

Honoring Lost Loved Ones While Embracing Hope

The holidays often magnify feelings of loss and loneliness. It’s normal to feel deep sadness when missing loved ones who are no longer with us. However, there are ways to honor their memory while still finding moments of hope and joy.

Share happy memories

Talk with others who know your loved one and share happy stories. Look through old photos together and laugh over the good times you had. Let the joy they brought into your life inspire you.

Continue traditions

Keep up traditions you enjoyed together, like baking favorite holiday treats, watching a classic movie, or driving around to see festive neighborhood light displays. While it may feel bittersweet, continuing to celebrate as you always have can help you feel close to them in spirit.

Do small acts of kindness

Your loved one may no longer be here to spread kindness, so do it for them. Donate to a charity they supported. Drop off cookies for neighbors. Compliment strangers. Helping others gets your mind off your sadness and makes you feel good by honoring what was important to them.

Take care of yourself

Be gentle with yourself, and listen to what you need. Connecting with others who offer comfort and support can help ease feelings of loneliness. Engage in self-care activities like exercising, limiting alcohol, sticking to a routine, and practicing mindfulness or gratitude. Your loved one would want you to be happy and healthy.

The pain of loss may always remain, but the holidays can get easier over time. Cherishing the memories you made together, embracing traditions, spreading kindness, and taking care of yourself are all ways to honor them while finding moments of peace and allowing in slivers of hope. You have so much to be grateful for, even if the most important person is no longer here to share it with you. They live on in your heart and in the way you choose to celebrate.


The holidays can be hard when you’re sad or grieving, but remember, you’re not alone. Many people experience difficult emotions this time of year. Be kind to yourself and accept that it’s normal to feel out of sorts. Do small things each day that bring you comfort. Connecting to others who understand can help, so don’t isolate yourself. Although it may not seem like it now, the pain will become more bearable over time. You have the strength and resilience within to heal. This season will pass, and you will find more peace and meaning again. For now, be gentle with yourself and know that there are brighter days ahead.

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