Traditions and rituals to help your Christmas grief

Published: 5/12/2023

Christmas can be an incredibly difficult time for those who have recently lost someone they love. The holiday season can amplify any feelings of grief and loneliness, making it all the more important to find ways to remember and honour your special person, while trying to nurture your own well-being too.

Support grief and traditions during the holidays
Support grief and traditions during the holidays

If you are navigating the difficult journey of grief during the Christmas season, we hope this article provides gentle guidance and support.

What are spiritual rituals for grief?

Spiritual rituals for grief are meaningful practices that offer a sense of comfort and connection to both lost loved ones and our inner selves. Traditions and rituals can take on many forms, but it is the intention and love behind them that make them so meaningful and precious.

Embracing your feelings

One of the more important aspects of coping with grief during the Christmas season is to acknowledge and accept your feelings. Grief is a deeply personal and unique journey, and it's totally ok, in fact normal,  not to feel the holiday cheer. If you're feeling overwhelmed by the usual festivities at this time of year, take a step back and do what feels right for you.

Honouring their memory

While it's essential to allow yourself the space to grieve in your way, there are also ways to honour your loved one's memory during this special time. Here are some suggestions that come from a caring space:

  • Light a candle for them: Lighting a candle can symbolise the presence of your loved one during the holiday season. The warm, flickering light can serve as a reminder that their memory continues to shine bright in your heart.
  • Reserve a seat at the table: Set a place at the dining table for your departed loved one. This simple yet powerful gesture can create a sense of their presence during the holiday meal and can bring a feeling of connection to your celebration.
  • Toast in their honour: Before your family meal commences, consider raising a glass and offering a heartfelt toast in honour of your loved one. Perhaps you could go around the table and share cherished memories or express feelings; this can be a beautiful way to include their memory in the celebration.
  • Play their favourite song: Music has a unique way to evoke memories and emotions. Playing your loved one's favourite song or music that reminds you of them can be a touching way to feel connected.
Honour your loved one by volunteering your time at charity during the holidays.
Honour your loved one by volunteering your time at charity during the holidays.

Giving back to the community

For many people, finding a sense of purpose and fulfilment through charitable acts can be a comforting way to cope with grief. You might like to discuss these suggestions with your family:  

  • Donate a gift in their name: As you shop for Christmas gifts this year, think about donating a present to a charity or cause that your loved one cared about. This generous act of kindness during the holiday season will not only serve as a tribute to their memory but also a meaningful way to pay it forward in their name.
  • Volunteer at a charity: If your departed loved one had a particular charity or cause they were involved in or cared about, consider volunteering with them during the holidays. Giving back in this way might fill the void of joy, love and fulfilment that might be hard to find.    

Connecting with others

Grief often makes us feel isolated, but connecting with others who share your experience can provide invaluable support. Reach out to support groups (we have named a few below), whether in person or online, to connect with people who understand what you're going through. Sharing your thoughts and feelings with others who are on a similar journey can be a source of great comfort - you might even make a new friend.

Taking care of you

In the midst of grief, it's really important to remember to take care of your own well-being. Be kind and patient with yourself and don't hesitate to reach out for professional help if you find yourself struggling to cope. A counsellor or therapist can provide you with guidance and support as you navigate the challenges of grief during the holiday season.

Grief during the Christmas season can feel especially daunting, but it's important to remember that you are not alone. The pain you are feeling is a testament to the love and connection you shared with your loved one. By embracing traditions, rituals, honouring their memory and taking steps to care for yourself, we hope you can find comfort during what certainly is a challenging time.

In the midst of grief, it's really important to remember to take care of your own well-being.
In the midst of grief, it's really important to remember to take care of your own well-being.

May you find peace, support and love as you navigate the path of grief this Christmas. You are cared for and your loved one's memory lives on in the love and cherished moments you shared.  

Find support

Beyond Blue provides Australians with information and support to improve their mental health. Call 1300 22 46 36 or visit beyondblue.org.au for more information.

Lifeline Australia provides Australians experiencing a personal crisis with access to 24-hour crisis support. Call 13 11 14 or visit lifeline.org.au for more information.

GriefLine listens, cares and supports people experiencing loss and grief, at any stage in life. Call 1300 845 6am to midnight AEST, 7 days a week.

MensLine Australia is a professional telephone and online support and information service for Australian men. Call 1300 78 99 78, 24 hours / 7 days a week.

Life Supports Counselling provides Australians with experienced counsellors & psychologists in their local area Australia-wide. Call 1300 735...

Kids Helpline is a free 24/7, confidential and private counselling service Australia wide specifically for children and young people aged 5 to 25 years. Call 1800 55 1800.

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