‘Tis the season. The days have gotten shorter, scarfs and sweaters have been brought out of storage, hot chocolate and cookies are becoming staples, and “Happy Holidays” is a go-to salutation. It is a time that is characterized as being full of joy and celebration, a time of family and friends, a time to reminisce on our blessings and a year well spent.

But for many who have experienced grief the holiday season is not as bright and joyful as Hallmark makes it out to be. Holiday associated grief is real. Traditions, family gatherings, and celebrations can amplify the always looming fact that a loved one is no longer there. This can be hard to process and even harder to push through.

It may feel like there is so much less to be thankful on Thanksgiving without them there, like there is less cheer in Christmas and Hanukkah, and the New Year is just another year without them. The almost intoxicating joy of the holiday season can be simply sad for anyone grieving.

Holiday Associated Grief is something that many people struggle with. It is important to seek help to process and work through grief.

Grief expert Kenneth J. Doka, PhD, discusses the “Three Cs” as a method of working through Holiday Associated Grief.

CHOOSE: How you want to celebrate and who you want to celebrate with is a choice for you to make. If you know a certain activity or tradition will increase your  emotional      suffering opt out of it. Your mental health is a priority. Choose to change or create new traditions and ways of celebrating. Consider a new tradition to honor or remember your loved one such as lighting a candle or volunteering at an organization they valued.

COMMUNICATE: Talk with those that care about you. They are likely worried and would like to help– let them know how they could do so. Discuss traditions with your family and friends who may also be feeling the loss, how can you alter traditions to minimize hurt?

COMPROMISE: Know you may have to be flexible to accommodate other’s griefs and loved ones who want to help. Maybe Thanksgiving Dinner with your extended family will be too much to process this year, but consider making an appearance for dessert. Compromise your needs and feelings with those of others.


According to Doka, if you CHOOSE your actions and methods of celebrating, COMMUNICATE those desires clearly to others, and are willing to COMPROMISE to help others process and care for you it will help minimize the stress and depression associated with the loss you may feel during the holiday season.

Additionally there are many resources for those experiencing an influx of seasonal depression and low mood. MentalHelp.net offers a cost free hotline, and increases its staff during the winter months, they provide 24 hour services and are only a phone call or text away (1-800-273-TALK (8255)).

However you work through the holiday season know that you are not alone. There is a plethora of resources to help minimize and negate hurt. The nCenter team is here for you as well, whether you are an established client or a new client we will help you make the most of your holiday season.


Image and Blog by Katlian Afton