11 Tips for Coping with Grief During the Holiday’s

IMPORTANT: This blog is not a substitute for therapy, but provides evidenced-based education for the purposes of self-help, or to compliment the therapeutic process. ​ ​This blog is non-monetized.

By Sandra Richardson, Registered Psychotherapist

As a clinical counsellor, I am not immune to the depths grief that can consume a person during the holidays. Within the same year, within months of Christmas, I found myself grieving the loss of my beautiful mother, and also a treasured friend. 

It is important to recognize everyone experiences grief in different ways, even within the same family.  In general, coping mechanisms are developed and influenced by family, friends and experiences, so we all have a different lens looking at life.

Traditions once shared, now are missing an integral person, a part of shared history, the weight of the presence of a loved one lost. The hurt and sorrow, often ripple through a family, extend to friends and also creep into the workplace. When coming to terms with my own grief and sense of loss, I realized I was not comfortable being sad, nor was I comfortable to isolate myself from family and friends.

​Yet sometimes friends seemed to avoid me shortly after losing my mother. It was not because they did not care; simply they did not know what to say or how to help. The fear of saying the wrong thing took priority over saying anything at all. I thought of my own discomfort of thinking of the right things to say or do when I knew a friend or loved one was grieving. This allowed me to realize that it is ok to reach out to our support networks, and communicate how they can help.

My experience is often echoed by many I have had the opportunity to work with in my counselling profession.  I found the strategies people shared to honour and remember their loved one, was often comforting, and provided me with great idea’s to make a difficult time, become manageable. 


  1. Acknowledge and accept holidays will be different and they will be tough.
  2. Consider speaking to a therapist or a counsellor.
  3. Plan ahead and communicate with family and friends you share holiday’s with to make sure everyone is in agreement about traditions and plans.
  4. Be honest and communicate what you would like to do for the holiday’s as well as what you would not like to do.
  5. Include one of your loved ones favourite dishes in your holiday meal.
  6. If you decorate, hang an ornament or create a memory craft that reminds you of your loved one and is a positive reminder and part of a new ongoing tradition.
  7. Consider attending a grief support group (list of services provided below).
  8. Identify friends and family that will be able to support you during the holidays, and be aware of those that may cause you more stress. Prioritize your time with those that are supportive.
  9. Practice self-care, take time to rest, eat well, relax, do not over commit.
  10. Keep lists of things to do and post where it is a reminder. Grief often makes it difficult to concentrate and remember things.
  11. Help support children by creating positive activities in memory of a loved one.


Bethell Hospice – Community Programs – Bereavement Care   
Royal Courtyards, Upper Level, 18 King St E, Unit A8, Bolton, ON  L7E 1E8
905‑838‑3534 (Residential and Community Intake Coordinator)

Bethell Hospice – Community Programs – Psycho-social Spiritual Care   
Royal Courtyards, Upper Level, 18 King St E, Unit A8, Bolton, ON  L7E 1E8
905‑838‑3534 (Residential and Community Intake Coordinator)

Bethell Hospice – Community Programs – Social Work and Care Coordination  
Royal Courtyards, Upper Level, 18 King St E, Unit A8, Bolton, ON  L7E 1E8
905‑838‑3534 (Residential and Community Intake Coordinator)


Alzheimer Society Peel – Brampton Site – Grief Support Group   
150 East Dr, Brampton, ON  L6T 1C1
289‑632‑2273 ext 307

Arborcare – Bereavement Support Program – Scott Funeral Home – Brampton Chapel
Scott Funeral Home – Brampton Chapel, 289 Main St N, Brampton

Bereaved Families of Ontario – Halton/Peel – Centre for Grief and Healing  
33 City Centre Dr, Suite 610, Mississauga,ON  L5B2N5

Dorothy Ley Hospice (The)   
220 Sherway Dr, Etobicoke, ON  M9C 0A7

Good Grief  
15 Westmorland Ave, Orangeville, ON  L9W 3B7

Lighthouse Program for Grieving Children   
2522 Rebecca St, Oakville, ON  L6L 6N8

Ontario Pet Loss Support Group  
2321 Hensall Street, Mississauga, ON  L5A 2T1

Traumatic Loss Survivor Support Program – Distress Centres   
Toronto, ON  M5C 2J4
905‑337‑2333 (leave message after hours)

*905‑272‑4040 Mississauga
*905‑842‑2252 Oakville
*905‑637‑5233 Burlington
*416‑782‑1197 Toronto

Let us know if you have more tips to share from your experiences. Your comments might make all the difference for someone else. 

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Sandra Richardson, RP

REGISTERED PSYCHOTHERAPIST Sandra retired from a 30 year career as a Police Officer, and is now a therapist at Dig A Little Deeper, Psychotherapy & Counselling in Bolton, ON.

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