Ten Touchstones for Holiday Grief

by Christi Neville, LPC

Holiday candle

1. Connection is the Key

Healing is relational, and  tends to unfold when we feel connected with ourselves, with others, and with our loved one who died.   Letting this central concept guide our holiday planning will help bring a little more “peace on earth”.

2. Make a Plan A (foresight)

Loss gives us the opportunity to re-assess what’s really important to us….we can modify rituals or create new ones that are meaningful to us now in present time.  Make choices out of self-compassion and honesty about your current needs.  Family meetings, good communication, including age appropriate communication with children, can be helpful in planning.

3. Be Willing to Change to Plan B (flexibility)

Even with the best planning, we can’t always plan our pain….our bodies and grief attacks are completely in present time.   Important to have a backup Plan B that factors in self-care and support if things don’t go as planned.

4. The Gift of Presence

Our fulfillment during the holidays will most likely come not from material presents, but from being fully present with our feelings and our intuition to guide us.  Grief naturally turns us inward, asking us to connect with self….create quiet time to listen to your guidance, open your heart to all emotions, while inviting in self-compassion at all times.

5. Practice Loving-Kindness to Yourself

To counter grief’s strain on the body, mind, and spirit, schedule in self-care each and every day…..find what is nurturing, relaxing, inspiring, or comforting to provide you with a little extra “TLC” and assist you in healing.

6. Just say “No, No, No” if you’re not feeling the “Ho, Ho, Ho”

Rather than forcing ourselves to feel the holiday spirit,  accepting our true feelings allows transformation.   Respecting our own limits, physically and emotionally, can be done by re-examining priorities, eliminating unnecessary stressors, delegating responsibilities, simplifying as much as possible, and just saying “no” to things that are beyond your capability.

7. Give and Receive Support      

Remember, the key is connection, and the company you keep is a choice….choose to surround yourself with supportive people who accept you for who you are , happy or sad, and wherever you are in your healing journey.  In addition to receiving support, consider reaching out to someone else who’s alone or in need; giving open our heart, and helps us to connect in our human-ness.

8. Write On!

Journaling, writing a holiday letter, or any kind of creative expression, can be helpful in times when you’re not able to share with others; it provides a safe place to work through emotions, and allows you to be 100% honest without judgment.

9. Incorporate your loved one into the holidays

This is one of the best ways to feel connected to your loved one.  Suggestions: donate in their name, light a special candle in their honor, make one of their favorite dishes, or create a special place to have family/friends write a memory on a piece of paper and either put it into a stocking, a memory box,  or share in some other creative way.

10. Search for the Sweetness  

Our grief is a testament to our ability to love…..give yourself permission to savor moments of laughter, joy, inspiration, hope, or appreciation of your tremendous capacity to love. When we’re a mindful participant in our own healing, we’re often able to discover hidden gifts of our own strength, courage, and transformation.


Christi Neville, LPC is The Christi Center’s Peer Support and Kids Who Kare Coordinator, and presented November’s Grief Through The Holidays presentation. “Ten Touchstones for Holiday Grief” first appeared on aresilientheart.com

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