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Image by Andres F. Uran


by Maureen Pollard,

Emotional Health Editor

Maureen Pollard, MSW, RSW is a registered social worker with a private practice in Cobourg, Ontario.  Visit her online at:

Holidays can be stressful at the best of times and when we’ve had a recent loss, we can feel overwhelmed with the demands of the season. How can we survive the pain we feel at these times when we are supposed to express love and joy?

If you’re navigating grief during the holidays, honour your experience. It’s healthier to be authentic, and that means you might have a wide range of feelings and thoughts as you adapt to life without your loved one’s physical presence. Remember:

Your feelings are perfectly normal for YOU in your experience of grief.

Be honest with family and friends about the impact of loss. Let them know if you’re not feeling up to some of your usual traditions, or if you want to do something new that honours your loved one’s memory.

It is ok to take a little space when you aren’t feeling strong. Spend some quiet time doing things that bring you comfort, such as listening to music or spending time in nature.

Spend time people who respect and support you. Try to spend time with family and friends who can be present with your grief, without judgment if you cry or feel sad.

Take care of yourself. Rest. Eat well. Move your body.

Take time to remember and honour your loved one. You might visit familiar places they loved, light a candle, look through photo albums, or listen to their favourite seasonal music.

Breathe. Find Your Own Way.


Grief can feel like a heavy blanket that weighs everything down. It can come in waves, relentlessly battering your broken heart, or it can arrive in unpredictable bursts of sudden pain. Intense grief reflects the deep love we have for the one we have lost.

There is no one “right” way to grieve. 

Trust yourself. Keep breathing. Try different things to soothe yourself as you adapt to your loss.

In time you will find a way to allow the joy and peace of the season and warm memories of your loved one to co-exist, gradually helping to ease the pain you feel now.

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