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5 Tips for Finding Joy in the Holiday Season After Losing a Loved One

How to Enjoy the Holidays After Losing a Friend or Family Member

  • Change Traditions
  • Keep Traditions the Same
  • Honor Loved Ones
  • Set Boundaries
  • Allow for Joy

Enduring the holidays after losing a friend or family member can be difficult, and finding joy in the holiday season after the loss of a loved one can seem impossible. However, it is possible to get through and even enjoy the holidays while still acknowledging one’s grief and the memory of those lost.

1. Change Traditions

Doing every Christmas activity in the same way can be painful. People may find they need to change certain traditions, particularly those that are especially associated with the loved one. For example, if the person liked a certain routine or food, in the first year or two after the person’s death, it might be better to do something very different. Some people even go so far as to leave town for the holiday. A new environment can be one way to start finding joy during the holidays after losing a loved one.

2. Keep Traditions the Same

On the other hand, it can be comforting to remember a loved one with something they particularly appreciated. This can help people feel they are including loved ones who are no longer present. For example, the author of this article in the Huffington Post recalls making the cookies her mother loved and buying gifts that her daughter might have chosen. People can choose their own comfort level in re-engaging with these traditions.

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3. Honor Loved Ones

Some people may have a private way of connecting with loved ones they have lost during the holidays. For example, the woman in this article from CNN, who enjoyed a Christmas tradition of drinking wine with her father from his prized collection, turned it into a holiday tradition of doing it at her father’s graveside. Some people may want to encourage everyone to tell stories about the loved one. These can be important elements of finding joy during the holidays after losing a loved one.

4. Set Boundaries

Everyone grieves differently, but this does not stop others from making judgments about how they should go about it. People should set boundaries as necessary. This may involve stepping back from certain events or traditions even if others disagree. Some people may choose to spend the holidays on their own, at work, or in some other way. Finding joy during the holidays after losing a loved one can sometimes mean behaving in ways that others do not approve of.

5. Allow For Joy

One difficulty that may arise in going through the holidays after losing a loved one is a feeling of guilt. Some people feel bad about enjoying themselves when a spouse, a parent, a child, a sibling or another close friend or family member has died. However, it is important to remember that the loved one would not have wanted this to be the case. Allowing oneself to feel joy at a time like this can be one of the hardest obstacles to overcome, but it can also be one of the most important ones.

Grieving is not a linear process, and it is not something that is over in a matter of weeks or months. Many would argue that grieving never really ends. It simply shifts into something that is different and more manageable. Whatever the case, and whether a loved one has died days, months or years earlier, it is possible to follow some of the above steps and find joy in the holiday season after losing a loved one.