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  1. Employee Resources
  2. News Room
  3. Coping with Grief Over the Holiday Season

Coping with Grief Over the Holiday Season

Release Date: December 20, 2023

Holiday traditions, music, and the emphasis on family can make the holiday season especially difficult for anyone grieving the loss of a loved one. Losing someone you care about is life changing. It can cause deep sorrow and significantly affect how you feel, act, and think. These reactions are a natural response to loss and is called grief. Grieving is a highly individual experience and people have unique ways of expressing their emotions throughout the grieving process.

It is important to be kind to yourself as you navigate through feelings of loss and grief this holiday season. Here are some strategies to help you cope:

  • Take care of yourself. The holiday season can be a hectic time. Be gentle with yourself and make space for comfort or joy. Try to stay physically active, get enough sleep, and eat healthy foods. Avoid habits that can put your health at risk, like drinking excessive amounts of alcohol or smoking.
  • Connect with caring friends. Draw friends and loved ones close and let them know if you need to talk. Spend time together and accept the assistance that is offered.
  • Talk to your doctor. Let your healthcare provider know if you are having trouble with everyday activities, like getting dressed, sleeping, fixing meals, or being socially active.
  • Join a grief support group. Check with your local hospitals, religious communities, and employee assistance programs to find a group in your area; it might help to talk with others who are also grieving.
  • Honor their memory. It may be comforting to find ways to remember and honor lost loved ones over the holidays. You can give a toast or say a prayer in their honor before dinner, light a candle, donate a gift in their memory, or share stories of your loved one during holiday gatherings.
  • Be patient with yourself. Mourning takes time. Accept that you need to grieve in ways that feel natural to you. Do not judge or criticize yourself for not coping as well as you or others think you should.

For more helpful information and resources about coping with grief, visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s grief webpage.

Your Employee Assistance Program is Here to Support

If you need additional support with grief, contact your Component Employee Assistance Program (EAP). EAP provides free and confidential counseling and information to help you cope this holiday season. For more information on employee resources, please send an email to worklife@hq.dhs.gov.

Last Updated: 12/20/2023
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