The holidays are a time for celebration, and as we are taught from a young age – it’s when you spend time with those who you care for the most. It’s more of a challenge to spread holiday cheer for people who have lost the one’s they care about the most, grieving during the holiday season is said to be one of the hardest times for an individual.

It is repeatedly stated that during the grieving process, everyone grieves differently. Some people may use the holiday as a point of life continuing, while others feel more comfortable cancelling the holiday, taking a year off as suggests. This would be different than avoiding grief, as it is a way for the individual to take care of themselves if it is too overwhelming. “You can and will get through the Holidays. Rather than avoiding the feelings of grief, lean into them. It is not the grief you want to avoid; it is the pain. Grief is the way out of the pain. Grief is our internal feelings and mourning is our external expressions” (

A study by Catherine Carnelley, Camille Wortman and their colleagues show that most people who are experiencing loss go through what is known to be anniversary reactions. This could either be the date of their death, birthdays, life milestones or important holidays.  “Importantly, although anniversary reactions are often quite intense, especially in the first few years, for most people they usually last no more than a few hours” (Psychology Today).

Although it is never an easy time to go through the grief that comes with losing a loved one, it can be a time of human resilience. George A. Bonanno’s book, “The Other Side of Sadness: What the New Science of Bereavement Tells Us About Life After Loss,” discusses how the view of grieving, such as the five stages of grief, is far less predictable than it appears. Along with the emotions of anger and sadness, there is a balance of relief and joy that causes human resilience to deal with the heaviness of grief.

“The Other Side of Sadness is a must-read for those going through the death of a loved one, mental health professionals, readers interested in neuroscience and positive psychology, and anyone eager to understand our ability to thrive in the face of adversity.”

For more helpful information, provided are some links below:


Grief during the holidays can be particularly difficult. Become a member of The American Academy of Bereavement today to find more resources on how to assist those facing these milestone moments.