Article: Grief and the Holidays

This piece ran in the December “55+” edition of the Times Colonist

December can be full of celebration. Lights and decorations adorn households and family gatherings fill the calendar. The month can be also be one of difficult for those who have lost a loved one.

You may be enjoying yourself one moment, then in tears the next.

The holiday season presents many challenges when you are grieving. Year-round at Victoria Hospice, we provide counselling and support for those who are grieving. Here are some tips to remember this upcoming holiday season. Memories of past celebrations can magnify feelings of loss and you may want to avoid reminders of celebration and togetherness. As the season approaches, it can be helpful to share concerns, feelings, and apprehensions with someone. Let those around you know what is difficult and accept offers of help.

Feelings of grief can return or increase, even years after the death, and you may feel surprised or concerned. The experience of heightened feelings at particular times of the year – like the holiday season – is a common and normal aspect of the grieving process. Grief has a timing of its own. It’s possible that your grief will seem missing during one occasion.

You may wonder why you aren’t feeling something and feel guilty or concerned. Grief can disappear and reappear when we least expect it. This ebb and flow is natural and sign of healthy coping.


• If Christmas shopping is upsetting, it may help to shop early, by telephone, or internet. You could take along an understanding friend or have family help shop for you.

• Consider alternatives such as developing new traditions, going away, eating at restaurants or buying gift cards.

• Create a special decoration and give it a place of honour.

• Remember that you can always do things differently next year

Victoria Hospice offers professional bereavement counselling and support groups that are open to everyone; no prior connection to Victoria Hospice is required. These services are located at our new Community Support Centre at 102-4450 Chatterton Way. Most of these services are free thanks to our generous donors. To learn more about Victoria Hospice Bereavement Services, call 250-519-3040 or visit