Encouragement When You're Grieving at Christmas

We've got our Christmas decorations up. 

We're starting to wrap gifts. 

As I type this note to you, I can hear my husband licking and closing the hundred Christmas card envelopes I left out for him to sign. 

I've got a rich red apple, cinnamon and cedarwood candle burning on my desk. 

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas.  And yet this year is different. 


This will be the first Christmas in 15 years without our fur son, Emjay.  I shared a little tribute to him in a post earlier this year

Yes, Emjay was a dog, but not having children of our own, he played an extremely important role in our family and Christmas won't be the same without him. 

Actually, Christmas won't be the same for the rest of my family either.  My parents and my brother also lost their dogs this year.  (Yeah....we're dog people.) 

Our family lost 3 dogs in less than 9 months. 

So needless to say, even though Christmas is a huge time of joy, it will also have an undertone of sadness this year as we all miss our little furballs terribly.  

I know that it is a hard time of year for many of you too. 

You may have lost a loved one this year or even years ago, but coping with grief at Christmas can be really hard.

Well, I want to encourage you to celebrate them this Christmas. 

Don't try to hide your tears, but turn them into tears of joy. 

Celebrate them.  Celebrate their life.  Celebrate what they meant to you. 

Here are 8 ideas of ways you can celebrate and remember them this Christmas:

  1. Create something in their honor. Make a Christmas wreath using something of theirs as a focal point. Make a quilt from their clothes. Make a snowglobe with their picture inside. Visit your local arts and crafts store and let your creativity flow.

  2. Memory tablecloths. Cover your table this Christmas with a simple solid color tablecloth and pick up some fabric markers. Ask friends and family to write something about your loved one on the tablecloth.

  3. Special ornaments. Order or create your own personalized Christmas ornament with their name or picture that can be hung on the tree every year.

  4. Keepsake Christmas gift box. Wrap a shoe box in Christmas wrapping paper and place it under the tree. Write your loved one a Christmas card each year and place it in the box. This can become part of your tradition as you put out the box and add a card each year.

  5. Hang a stocking. Hang a stocking for your loved one and ask friends and family to write a note sharing their favorite memory inside.

  6. Cook their favorite dish and give it a prominent place on your dinner table this Christmas.

  7. Decorate their chair. Empty chairs around the table can be a harsh reminder. Some recommend removing the chair, which might be the right choice for you. But you could also set a place for them at the table and decorate their chair with their favorite things.

  8. Light a candle and share something special about what they meant to you. Invite those around your table this Christmas to stand with you as you light a candle and share funny and heartwarming memories about your loved one. Or if you like to make candles, why not create candles in their honor and send them to family and friends and ask them to light them on Christmas Eve to honor their memory.

  9. Create a new family tradition by doing an activity that they loved. Did they like ice skating; walking the neighborhood and seeing the Christmas lights; visiting their favorite bakery or creating snow angels? Pick something they loved to do and make it part of your annual celebration.

If you're struggling, I hope you'll try one of these out and let me know if it helped.

And if you have a friend who’s struggling this Christmas, this article, What Grieving People Wish You Knew at Christmas, gave me some insights into ways I could be sensitive to their grief. I hope it helps you too.

What have you done to celebrate a loved ones memory at Christmas?


Jamila is the founder of loved+blessed.  On her personal mission to leave a legacy of encouragement, she blogs about her own life lessons with the hope that it will bring joy into others lives and help them find the courage to keep walking in faith knowing that all things work together for the good of those who love the Lord.  Read her testimony of how God turned her misery into ministry.