GriefNet Library: Coping with Grief during Holidays

Coping with Grief During the Holidays
Hospice Foundation of America's New Campaign Offers Advice


Washington, DC - A question commonly asked by bereaved people at this time of year is, "How can I get through the holidays?" There is really no single answer of what one should or shouldn't do. Hospice Foundation of America stresses one guiding principle: do what is comfortable.

"When we are already experiencing the great stress of bereavement, the additional strains of the holidays can create unbearable pressure," commented Jack Gordon, President of HFA. "The key to coping with grief during the holidays is to find the way that is right for you."

Some people find it helpful to be with family and friends, emphasizing the familiar. Others may wish to avoid old sights and sounds, perhaps even taking a trip. Others will find new ways to acknowledge the season.

Here are some key points from HFA's Holiday Grief Campaign:

  • Plan for the approaching holidays. Be aware that this might be a difficult time for you. The additional stress may affect you emotionally, cognitively, and physically; this is a normal reaction. It is important to be prepared for these feelings.

  • Recognize that holidays won't be the same. If you try to keep everything as it was, you'll be disappointed. Doing things a bit differently can acknowledge the change while preserving continuity with the past.

  • Be careful not to isolate yourself. It's alright to take time for yourself but don't cut yourself off from the support of family and friends.

  • The holidays may affect other family members. Talk over your plans. Respect their choices and needs, and compromise if necessary.

  • Avoid additional stress. Decide what you really want to do, and what can be avoided.

As part of their campaign to educate and assist people at this time of the year, HFA produces several resources. This includes a special Holiday issue of their Journeys bereavement newsletter, an educational feature article distributed across the country and available for reprint, and HFA's Living With Grief brochure series. A special Internet Chat Session set for December 1st, 11:00am - 12noon on, with senior consultant Kenneth Doka, Ph.D. focuses on grief during the holidays.

Hospice Foundation of America, with offices in Miami Beach and Washington, DC is a non-profit, grassroots organization educating the public about loss and end-of-life care. For a copy of HFA's Holiday Grief article or other resources, or to schedule an interview with a HFA representative, please contact Jon Radulovic at 1-800-854-3402; or download the article from our Web site at:

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