Top Ten Things to Do with a Grieving Friend over the Holidays

The first holiday season without a loved one can be very difficult, especially when most of them are centered around family gatherings and traditions.  If you have a grieving friend who is dreading the holidays, it may be hard to know how to get them out of their sadness and into the holiday spirit. 

The grieving process affects everyone differently. There are no right or wrong ways of grieving, as it is such a personal matter. Some people might want to ignore and skip the holidays altogether.  Others might overcommit to various invitations in order to forget their sadness and feelings of loneliness.

Being present with your grieving friend and including them in activities events may be greatly therapeutic, offering them creative or relaxing outlets to cope with the holiday season. 

  1. Ask them about their loved one.  What traditions did they have during the holidays?  What would they like to do to honor their loved one during that time?
  2. Make a customized memorial candle that can sit on the dining table or mantle.  This can help to honor the deceased and have their presence acknowledged during the holidays.
  3. Take a hike.  Forest bathing is not just for the nature-lover; the practice can be as simple as walking in any natural environment and consciously connecting with what’s around you.
  4. Singing.  Whether it is caroling, singing at church, karaoke, or just playing music and singing along, this can help lift one’s spirit.  One study shows that group singing for 90 minutes over a course of 24 weeks can help overall well-being for people experiencing grief.
  5. Paint pottery.  This is a great activity to keep being creative and finish with a work of art to display.
  6. Take them to the spa.  A day of pampering is a great way to unwind, to bond over your friendship and be taken care of.
  7. Take a cooking class together – chopping, prepping and cooking are great ways to learn something new while being present and engaging one’s mind and palate.
  8. Offer to help your friend go through their loved one’s clothing.  The holidays are a great opportunity to donate items to a homeless shelter or other charity.
  9. Have an adult sleepover.  If your friend has low energy, the companionship may be all they need.  Order in food and have a list of movies to watch.
  10. Volunteer together.  Spend time in a homeless shelter serving food or visiting a local nursing home.