Coping With Grief Through The Holidays
December 19, 2023

Being a caregiver is never an easy feat. It’s a long term commitment that comes with watching someone you love age with a disease known to change the person you once knew, all while you juggle various roles and responsibilities to make sure your loved one is still being provided for. Some days, it feels as though the weight of the world is falling right on your shoulders.

We know your plate is full and that is why we’re here – to ease some of the burden for you and provide you with the tools, resources, and support needed to ensure both you and your loved one are living a life full of meaning and purpose. This is a journey you need not walk alone and, even during some of the hardest trials, there is still joy to be found in caregiving.

Let us help you find it. 

Dear Grieving Caregiver,

I know this holiday season probably isn’t what you’d typically expect it to be. Grief has an unfortunate way of taking the magic out of something that was once so special. Perhaps this is your first year without your loved one by your side, or maybe you have spent the last few years trying to heal. Or, perhaps you have been walking the trenches of a particular type of grief so unique because your loved one is still present… but not in the way they used to be. No matter the situation, I hope you know it’s okay to still feel all the big feelings. Coping with grief through the holidays doesn’t mean boxing up your emotions and setting them aside until after the new year. Instead, coming to terms with your grief during an especially difficult season means granting yourself the permission and grace to experience the holidays in ways that feel comfortable for you.

Now, please don’t take this letter as a permission slip to simply “cancel” the holidays. While it is okay to sit out on some traditions or circumstances that no longer feel right to you, VITAS Healthcare states that it is important not to isolate yourself during this time. While you definitely deserve some alone time when your mind and body are really craving it, completely cutting yourself off from those around you could potentially do more harm than good to your mental and emotional health. VITAS further adds that taking part in planned social activities might even offer an opportunity to honor and remember your loved one by connecting with others who also share in your loss.

Don’t be afraid to speak up for yourself, either. Communication is a big part of the journey moving forward, and sometimes, the best thing you can do for yourself is to let those in your circle know how you are feeling.

If the idea of leaving the house for a big social gathering feels like too much, reach out and let someone know. If your heart is feeling extra heavy and you’re worried about putting on a big smile for everyone, say so. No tradition or activity is so important that it’s worth sacrificing a piece of your mental state.

Remember, there is no right or wrong way to experience grief, and no one can expect you to act holly-jolly all the time simply because it’s the holidays. Grief comes and goes in waves and varies from stage to stage. Sometimes, that means letting go of things from the past that once made you happy but no longer serve to bring your heart joy in the present. Letting your friends and family know when you are feeling this way allows you to let some of that go while your village steps in to help carry some of the load. 

Dear caregiver, I know this grief is hard and can really make you feel alone in the world. And, sometimes, there’s not always a “best way” to put things into words to try to describe what you may be feeling. But the important part is not closing the door and leaving yourself in the dark. The holidays are hard enough as it is, and maybe you feel as though the season will never feel the same way again. But I promise you, your loved one wouldn’t want to see you alone through the holidays. So, reach out to your circle, let them know how you’re feeling, and know that it is okay if things don’t look how they used to. I want you to know that you are not wiping away your loved one’s memory by proceeding with the holidays as planned. Instead, setting a new pace and sharing your grief with others might just be the best way of coping through the holidays.


Sending you grace this holiday season,

A Fellow Caregiver

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The impacts of Alzheimer’s, dementia, and other age-related issues affect the entire family. Oakwood Creative Care provides services, education, and support to help you ensure you never have to navigate through this journey alone.

Learn more, contact us, and get started with the Guide Program today, at:

caregivers and coping with grief during the holidays


We're a nonprofit organization based in Mesa, Arizona with three senior day club locations (and a fourth on the way) which serve older adults with Alzheimer's, dementia, Parkinson's, and various other physical or cognitive challenges. Life does not end with a diagnosis. Our members continue to learn new skills, enjoy new discoveries, make friends, laugh, and live a joy-filled life. Our team of dementia experts lead support groups, events, classes, and private sessions with caregivers and families, guiding them on the best methods to care for their loved ones while also caring for themselves.

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