Grief doesn’t vacation during the winter holiday season

It is said to be ‘the most wonderful time of the year,’ however, we must recognize that the winter holiday season is not a season of festivities and joy for everyone, especially those grappling to live with the loss of a loved one. As social workers, this truth offers us opportunities to reflect on the pain, loneliness and sorrow some may feel and offer to hold space for those in need of hope and comfort in knowing that they are not alone.  Pausing and remembering the past weeks, months, and for some years of difficult times, we can remember the poignancy of memories, the grief, the sadness, the hurts, the pain of reflecting on our own mortality.

A survey by the American Psychological Association found that 38% of people felt their stress levels increased during the holiday season. The holiday season can magnify the intensity of the difficult feelings of grief people are experiencing and cause them to retreat and isolate from holiday activities.

We can support those who are having a blue winter holiday season by:

  1. Asking the bereaved what you can do to support them during the holidays
  2. Find ways to include the memory of the lost loved one(s) in the holiday festivities
  3. Invite the bereaved to holiday functions and do not take it personally if they decline
  4. Reach out and check on them; a text or a phone call can go a long way in showing support
  5. Encourage and support self-care
  6. Suggest talking to a mental health professional or joining a grief support group
  7. Validate feelings by listening with sympathy and care
  8. Make a donation or give of your time in memory of the bereaved person’s loved one

While grief is the final act of love and will never cease, our acknowledgement and support for those who find it this time of year difficult shines a light in the darkness so they will not be overcome.


  1. SAMHSA’s National Helpline, 1-800-662-HELP (4357) (also known as the Treatment Referral Routing Service), or TTY: 1-800-487-4889 is a confidential, free, 24-hour-a-day, 365-day-a-year, information service, in English and Spanish, for individuals and family members facing mental and/or substance use disorders. This service provides referrals to local treatment facilities, support groups, and community-based organizations.
  2. 988 has been designated as the new three-digit dialing code that will route callers to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. While some areas may be currently able to connect to the Lifeline by dialing 988, this dialing code will be available to everyone across the United States starting on July 16, 2022.

American Psychological Association. (2006, October 24). Holiday stress. American Psychological Association. Retrieved December 15, 2022, from 

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