Helping Grievers During the Holidays

Mature couple for Christmas at home

The holiday season is known for its cheerful carols, sparking lights, and family gatherings. It’s a time of joy for many. But for those grieving the death of a loved one, the holidays can be a painful reminder of their loss. 

The National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization provides these tips for those who want to help a grieving friend or loved one but are unsure how to act or what to say:  

  1. Support them in how they choose to participate in the holidays. Some may wish to follow traditions; others may choose to avoid customs of the past and do something new. It’s okay to do things differently.
  2. Offer to help with the decorating or holiday baking. Both tasks can be overwhelming for someone who is grieving.
  3. Assist with or do the holiday shopping. Sharing catalogs or online shopping sites may be helpful in finding items to buy.
  4. Invite them to join your holiday gathering. You might welcome them to attend a religious service with you or for holiday meal where they are a guest.
  5. Ask if they would be interested in volunteering with you. Doing something for someone else, such as helping at a soup kitchen or working with children, may help them feel better about the holidays.
  6. Donate gifts or money in memory of the person’s loved one. Affirm that their loved one is not forgotten.
  7. Give them hope that, eventually, they will enjoy the holidays again. Never tell someone that he or she should be “over it.”
  8. Being present is an important gift in helping others grieve and heal.
  9. Remind them that you are thinking of them and their loved one. Cards, phone calls, and visits are great ways to stay in touch.

In general, the best way to help those who are grieving during the holidays is to let them know you care and that their loved one is not forgotten. 

Source: National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization. More information about hospice and coping with grief can be found on the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization’s consumer website, 


Categories: Caregiving