Navigating Grief During the Holidays

The holiday season may feel overwhelming for those grappling with grief. Coping with loss, especially during this time, is a challenge that many people face. Grief doesn’t follow a rulebook—it’s different for each person. Whether you’ve lost a loved one or are dealing with other forms of loss, there are strategies to help you cope. 

1. Plan an Exit Strategy

If holiday gatherings become overwhelming, have an exit plan in place. If comfortable, communicate feelings to hosts and prioritize your well-being over social expectations. 

2. Volunteer

Helping others can provide comfort and a sense of connection. Consider volunteering as a way to honor your loved one’s memory while surrounding yourself with people who have similar values or interests. 

3. Seek Support 

Talk to someone you trust about your feelings. If you don’t feel comfortable confiding in a friend or family member, take part in a support group in the Trenton area. At a grief support group, you’ll be surrounded by people who know your pain and who share your journey. Finding a safe space in your community to allow yourself to feel without guilt can make the holidays feel much less overwhelming. 

  • H.O.P.E. chapters meet weekly and offer both small group in-person and virtual meetings to NJ residents. 
  • Diocese of Trenton offers Bereavement Ministry on Wednesday evenings from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. starting October 4. 

4. Expect the Unexpected

Give yourself grace to experience a range of emotions. There’s no right way to grieve, so honor your feelings and be patient with yourself. Locate a spot to escape any holiday party chaos, like a bathroom, spare bedroom, or porch, to take a few minutes to yourself when needed.  

5. Embrace Joy Amid Grief

If you find moments of joy during the holidays, embrace them. Allow grief and joy to coexist. It’s okay to experience both emotions at the same time. Give yourself grace and try to reflect on the experience afterwards through journaling. 

Grieving during the holidays is a challenging journey, but by acknowledging feelings, seeking support, and allowing yourself grace, you can navigate this period with compassion and self-care. Remember, your feelings are valid, and there’s no timeline for grief. If you need support from a behavioral health counselor, call 609-278-5900 or visit to make an appointment. 

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