Grieving During the Holidays? These 10 Tips, Developed by Grief Support Experts Can Help

Posted on December 6, 2019

While the December holidays can be a time of celebration and fun with friends and family, they can also be especially challenging for adults and kids grieving the death of someone close to them. No matter when the person died, grief can feel especially intense this month. The Dougy Center developed these tips to help when the pressures of holidays or special days throughout the year can be overwhelming.

Dougy’s December Tips

  1. Talk with friends and family ahead of time and set expectations, limits, and hopes for the holiday season. It’s okay to say no!
  2. Create a personal tradition. Holiday traditions don’t have to be big affairs. Choose something meaningful just for you. Many families at The Dougy Center choose to light a candle each morning or night.
  3. Make it about someone else. Look for an organization or cause that inspires you to donate or volunteer. Need help deciding? Think about causes important to the person you’re grieving.
  4. Find your last minute friends and family. Who gives you total permission to cancel plans at the very last moment?
  5. Ask the kids. If you have grieving children in your life, ask them what’s important to them about this time of year. What memories do they have? Not everyone has positive memories, so let them know you’re game for hearing the hard ones too.
  6. Social Media + Grief + Holidays = It’s Complicated. Lots of people have a love/hate relationship with social media. Unexpected memory posts, the seemingly perfect lives of others, and feeling pressure to post something. It’s not easy. Some take a break. Others plan out a post. Pick what’s right for you. P.S. It’s okay to change your mind.
  7. When it comes to traditions, should you keep everything the same, change it up, or go for a mix of the two? There’s no right or wrong way to do the holidays.
  8. Does feeling included help? If so, consider asking supportive friends and family to randomly invite you along. Let them know no errand is too small or boring!
  9. Remember it’s okay to still have fun. If you have grieving children in your world, reassure them that laughing, playing, and having a good time doesn’t mean they love or miss the person any less.
  10. What’s on your gift list? Write a list of gifts you received from the person you’re grieving. These can be actual items, characteristics, life lessons, or anything else that’s meaningful to you. Invite kids to do this too!

For additional tips and resources for grieving children, teens, and adults, visit or email

About The Dougy Center (

The Dougy Center provides support in a safe place where children, teens, young adults and their families grieving a death can share their experiences. Through the Pathways Program, The Dougy Center provides a safe place for children and teens when a family member is living with an advanced serious illness. The Dougy Center serves 2,225 children and adults each year through support groups in Portland, Hillsboro and Canby, and provides training world-wide to schools, organizations and individuals seeking to assist children in grief. The Dougy Center’s services are completely free for families, and they rely on the generous support of individuals, businesses and foundations.

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