Handling the Holidays 2023

November 16, 2023

The holiday season is traditionally a time of gathering to celebrate with friends and family, yet for those who have experienced the death of a loved one, those feelings might be overshadowed by grief. We invite you to take a few moments to reflect on the following to find hope and comfort this holiday season.


After a loss, you may find comfort in some holiday traditions and not others. Take time to consider holiday activities that are meaningful to you. Is it important to decorate a tree, send holiday cards, make cookies, or attend each gathering? Consider if there are ways to do things on a smaller scale or who you may reach out to for help. Decide what you are saying “yes” to in this season and put it on your calendar. Remember what you do this year does not define what you do in the future.


Grief can be exhausting, consuming your physical and emotional energy, no matter what the season. The holidays place additional demands on you and your time. Listen to what your mind, body, and spirit are telling you. Be realistic in the expectations you place on yourself, remembering that you are deserving of kindness and rest.


Asking for what you need from others can be uncomfortable, yet allowing your needs to be known is a way to care for yourself. As you become aware of your needs, communicate those needs with friends and family. Be specific when sharing your preferences and let them know if those needs change.


While it can feel vulnerable to ask for help, people are often looking for ways to provide support. Ask those who care about you to assist with holiday shopping, decorating, cleaning, cooking, etc. This may lessen your feelings of loneliness and may make these activities more enjoyable.


Sharing memories of your loved one and your experiences of grief with others are a part of healing. Take time to identify those who encourage you to be yourself and accept you, without judgement. Be open to expressing your feelings to these people, and as you share you might find yourself feeling a little lighter.


It is natural after a loss to look inward and reflect on where you have been and where you are today. Be gentle with yourself as you move through the ups and downs of this season. Allow yourself to name what brings you joy, peace, and rest. Perhaps it is your favorite warm beverage or beloved holiday movie. Embrace the small and simple.


Memories were made in love, and memories are what keep you connected to your loved one during the holiday season. Consider the following healing rituals as you remember your loved one:

  • Decorate the tree with family or friends
  • Place a wreath at your loved one’s gravesite
  • Choose a candle or flower to be placed at the dinner table
  • Make a loved one’s favorite recipe
  • Place written memories in a box to be shared during a gathering

Honor a Life Holiday Gathering

Unity invites you to join us an evening of light, reflection, and music as we gather to remember loved ones this holiday season. Visit Honor a Life for more information on Unity’s 9th Annual Honor a Life Holiday Gathering.

Holiday Grief Support

The holidays can be difficult after experiencing a death. Unity’s grief programs support the family and friends of Unity patients, as well as all members of the community. Experienced Grief Counselors and trained volunteers create a safe haven to learn about grief, share experiences and find hope. Generous donations allow Unity to offer compassionate grief support at no charge. To learn more about the support provided, visit Unity Grief and Education Center or contact us.

Should you find yourself looking for grief support and are open to connecting with a Unity Grief Counselor, please contact Unity Grief and Education Center at (920) 339-6700.

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