3 Ways to Grieve a Loved One at Christmas

I sat in the Ross Park Mall playground this week and watched my son run around. I flashed to memories of myself as a child at the mall before Christmas.

Dad would treat Mark (my brother) and I to Orange Julius and hand us money to shop. We then spent the rest of the day walking by almost 200 stores, searching for perfect Christmas gifts. I usually bought mom some kind of sweater and Dad a tie. But they were just the right ones.

Mom and Dad are gone, my brother lives 3,000 miles away, and we sold my childhood home a couple years ago.

So, Christmas makes me cry.

Here are 3 Ways I am Learning to Grieve at Christmas:

Remembering our past roots us. It reminds us who we are and places us in the bigger story of our lives.


Reflect on Christmases shared with loved ones. Even though tears may come, remembering helps us walk though grief, rather than stuff it. Stuffing grief only leaves a residue of pain, but without the hope of healing.

It is intriguing how much God wants his people to remember. The Jewish calendar is full of festivals and rituals of remembrance of who God is and what he’s done.

I remember that year mom and dad went through bankruptcy and we had very little money. All I wanted was guess jeans like the cool kids wore at school. Mom found a pair totally out of style at Salvation Army, but I didn’t care. I wore those things like she bought them at Macy’s.

Then there’s the yearly tradition of watching It’s a Wonderful Life Christmas Eve—or how mom wrapped our stocking stuffers because she thought opening lots of small gifts brought more joy than just placing them in the stocking (so fun!)

Remembering the good times is helping me feel gratitude even in the sorrow.

Enjoy Now.

Sometimes I look back or forward too much that I miss what is right in front of me: 3 kids and my best-friend husband.

As I remember my past Christmases with my parents, I realize that I’m curating those memories for the kids in my home—right in front of me.

So, I’m learning to move more slowly. Pause. Keep more white space on our calendar for lingering moments or spontaneous games of hide ‘n seek. Tonight the white space lended to a pizza dinner by the fire followed by roasting peppermint s’mores. It was simple and I loved it.

Whatever the landscape of your life: young ones at home, young yourself, or maturing years—enjoy the people right in front of you. How can you connect? How can you slow down, reach out, make new memories?

Do Something They Would Enjoy.

What was a favorite way your loved one enjoyed celebrating Christmas? Did they have a favorite holiday food? Song? Movie?

Did they attend a certain show every year? Volunteer some place? Donate or serve a cause?

One way helping me grieve this Christmas is watching cheesy holiday movies. I’m pouring myself Martinelli’s Apple Cider in a wine glass (childhood fav) and watching Hallmark movies in my pj’s. Mom would be right next to me if she was here.

I think it’s okay to be both sad and joyful at Christmas. Both grieving and celebratory. Embrace where you are and look for those things to be thankful for.

Seana Scott

More ideas:

Check out this post for a list of ideas in how to grieve during the holidays.

3 Ways to Grieve a Loved One at Christmas

2 thoughts on “3 Ways to Grieve a Loved One at Christmas”

  1. Distilled wisdom, Seana. Thank you. The holidays always bring about bittersweet memories from multiple broken homes and tragic deaths. So grateful for the good and godly perspective you’ve written here that urges me to look forward instead of backward– and to stay mindful that my children are taking in the present time like I did the past. Grateful as always for the eloquence of your pen.

    1. Wayne, thank you for your thoughtful response. I hope this year is filled with many sweet moments with your beautiful family—even the simple ones of just hanging out. Those are some of my favorite moments at home.

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