Tips for Getting Through the Holidays

Author: TAPS

Holiday cheer and merrymaking can be everywhere this time of year, but for those grieving the loss of a loved one, the holiday season can be filled with emotional twists and turns.

The Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS) would like to offer the following tips to help those who are grieving the death of a loved one this holiday season.

Woman looking out window

Acknowledge the change

Recognize that the holidays are now different. It's OK to feel a range of emotions — from sadness to nostalgia, and it's important to allow yourself to experience them.

Writing a plan in notebook

Make Plans

Anticipating holidays can often be worse than the holiday itself. Think about how you want to spend the day. You might decide to keep it low-key or to be with close family and friends who understand your loss. Map out how you will spend your time. This can help relieve anxiety.


Choose Your Company Wisely

Try to spend time with the people in your life who are most nurturing. If the thought of a large gathering feels overwhelming, it's OK to keep it simple. A small, intimate dinner can be more manageable.

Church Service

Seek Spiritual Comfort

Your church, synagogue, mosque, or other faith community may provide special comfort during this time of year.

TAPS Staff member comforts survivor

Seek Support

Surround yourself with people who understand and respect your need to grieve. Expressing your feelings and leaning on others for emotional support is OK. For those grieving the loss of a military or veteran loved one, TAPS has a network of trained professionals available 24/7. Whether you are in an emotional crisis, need to connect with TAPS resources and programs, or just want to remind yourself that you are part of a loving, supportive family, call TAPS at 800-959-TAPS (8277) and know we’re here for you.

Gift Giving

Evaluate Traditions

If certain traditions were important to your loved one, consider maintaining them to honor their memory. This may also be a time to start new traditions to help you cope with your loss and create new memories.

woman holding candle

Honor Your Loved One

Light a candle, include your loved one in a toast, share memories, cook a favorite recipe, or even volunteer or make a charitable contribution in their honor.

lemon water

Focus on Your Health

Make sure to get plenty of rest, eat regularly, and drink plenty of water. Don't look for quick fixes like sweets or alcohol, as they can make you feel worse in the long run.

holding hands

Ask for Help

Don’t hesitate to ask for help, whether for organizing the day, handling tasks, or just needing someone to talk to. It’s important to remember that seeking help is a sign of strength, not weakness.

helping eldery from car

Engage in Acts of Service

Often, looking outside of our homes for opportunities to volunteer can be just what we need during the holidays. Local retirement homes are always looking for volunteers during the holiday season. Being there for someone else during the holidays and listening can be a gift for that person and you.

wreath making with friend

Embrace Moments of Joy

Remember that it's OK to find happiness and enjoy parts of the day. Laughing and feeling joy are not betrayals of your loved one’s memory; they’re ways to cherish life and the time you spent with them.

TAPS is here to Help

TAPS is a family filled with care, compassion, and hope. We are here for you 24/7, whether you need someone to listen or an opportunity to remember and honor your loved one. Our National Military Survivor Helpline is available 24/7/365 – call us anytime at 800-959-TAPS (8277).

Photos: Pexels, TAPS Archives