Open Accessibility Menu

Rest, Breathe, Remember: Navigating Grief During the Holidays

Posted On:

Tips for facing your first holiday season without a loved one from St. Luke’s Hospice Duluth®

After losing a loved one, getting through the holiday season can be a challenge – especially the first one. At St. Luke’s Hospice Duluth®, we encourage taking time to rest, breathing through difficult days and remembering shared experiences.

Here are a few practical ways to help you navigate grief.


Rest and sleep are important in the healing process. You will benefit from getting extra rest during this time of grief.

  • Get plenty of sleep at night and nap or rest as needed.
  • Take a break from the usual holiday expectations and obligations. Minimal decorations, fewer cards and less shopping would all be okay this year. In fact, doing things completely different may be easier, especially the first season following a loss.
  • Ask for and accept the loving support of family and friends.
  • Don’t allow yourself to be pressured into arrangements you are not comfortable with. Be honest with your family and friends. Know what you need, and respectfully explain what will and won’t work for you this year.

Woman reading a book with a mug of tea

Deep breathing can reduce stress levels and break anxiety cycles. Developing a practice of intentional breathing can also help prepare your mind and body for rest.

  • Create a daily routine of deep breathing. Pause and take a few deep breaths when you feel anxious. Consider working them into your routine before bedtime.
  • Acknowledge and accept your feelings. Sorrow and joy are both okay. Weep. Laugh. Breathe.
  • Having a “Plan B” in case you feel the need to “escape” from a gathering or event that becomes too difficult may be helpful. Communicating with others that you may need to leave or change plans can relieve some stress as well.
  • Spend time outside if you are able. Breathe in the cool air and feel the sun on your face. Being in nature can be very healing.

Walking in a wintery landscape with a dog


Remember your loved one by allowing memories to come to the surface of your heart, mind and conversation.

  • Embrace your treasure of memories. Talk about your loved one. Share your favorite stories and ask others to do so as well.
  • Prepare your loved one’s favorite foods for you to enjoy and share with others.
  • Write a card or letter to your loved one.
  • Light a candle in remembrance. You could also place battery-operated candles with timers around your home. Set them to come on automatically at dusk to help chase away the darkness.
  • Volunteer or make a donation to a cause or charity that was meaningful to your loved one.
  • If you have a faith community, ask that your loved one and family be remembered in thought and prayer.
  • If you have children, help them understand and navigate the loss to the best of your ability. Creating special moments of remembering for them may help you as well.
  • Gratefully consider the life your loved one lived. Be thankful for the things you shared and the memories you will always have. Also, remember to appreciate the family and friends you still have.

As you navigate the holidays, may these tips offer support, allow you to find comfort, and create moments of peace.

Feet relaxing by a fire with a cozy lit candle

Hospice care in Duluth

For over 40 years, St. Luke’s Hospice has provided exceptional care to patients and their families in the Twin Ports. We also offer free grief support services to loved ones after a patient’s passing. This includes regular follow up phone calls, counseling, written materials, bereavement mailings, and a Hospice Memorial Service held biannually for families to attend within the year following their loss.

Learn more at