Grief has been a prevalent theme of 2020 and this year Christmas will be different for many Australians. The festive season is a time of celebration, but for those who have to cope with grief and loss, it can be a difficult time.

According to official records from the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 158,493 Aussies died in 2018. That’s a lot of grief for spouses, children, mothers, fathers and family members this Christmas.

Australian podcast, Good Mourning, is hoping to open up the discussion around grief this festive season, by providing a platform to discuss what loss is really like. Co-hosts, Sally Douglas and Imogen Carn, who both lost their mums unexpectedly in their early thirties, interview interesting guests to hear how loss has shaped their lives, with honesty and humour.

“Despite grief being something that we all experience, it is a topic that remains hard to talk about. Grief can be lonely – especially during times like Christmas when you’re reminded of your lost loved one, and there’s the added pressure to be jolly. We want people to know that it’s absolutely normal to feel mixed emotions in the lead up to – and during – the festive period, and that they are not alone,” says Good Mourning Co-host Sally Douglas.

Sally and Imogen along with four inspirational women (and former podcast guests) share their advice on how to cope with grief and loss during the festive season.

Limit Social Media Use

Sally Douglas, Co-host of the Good Mourning podcast (@goodmourningpodcast), who lost her mum, Rose, to a sudden seizure last year says, “My advice for grievers during the festive season is to consider limiting your social media use. Sometimes, if you’re coping with a loss, scrolling on Instagram and seeing everyone else looking happy can make you feel worse, so try monitoring how much time you spend online.”

Make A Donation

Imogen Carn, Co-host of the Good Mourning podcast, who will be remembering her mum, Vanessa this year, says, “Christmas can be so tough when you are mourning a loved one who is no longer around to share it with you. But that doesn’t mean you can’t honour their memory – why not make a donation to a cause that mattered to them, in their name. You will be helping others, which can in turn make you feel good. I will also be buying my daughter a small gift from her grandma, to keep my mum involved in our Christmas day.”

Surround Yourself With Love

Danielle Snelling, Co-Founder, Motherless Daughters Australia (@motherlessdaughtersau), who lost her mum Rosa to a rare form of gynaecological cancer when she was 23 years old, says: “This Christmas, my advice to those experiencing loss would be to surround yourself with people who are understanding. And remember that it’s ok to have boundaries for those who don’t make your life easier during this time of year – quality over quantity is what matters.”

Let Yourself Feel

Sarah Tarca, Co-founder of The Wayward and Gloss etc. (@tarca), whose stepfather, Daryl, passed away from colon cancer in 2005, says, “My advice is to remember be kind to yourself this festive season. There is no ‘right’ way to grieve and there is no time limit. Feel however you want to feel – anger, resentment, frustration, numbness, sadness – all of it. Your feelings are valid. Do whatever helps you in that moment, to take you to the next. And know this: it will get easier.”

Buy Gifts For Your Loved Ones

Priyanka Saha, Founder of the Lily Calvert Foundation (@thelilyflower_), sadly lost her baby girl Lily at 10 and a half months, due to an incurable brain condition known as Miller-Dieker syndrome. She says, “If you’ve lost a baby, Christmas can be a brutal reminder of how things should’ve been. One thing that I have found really helps is to buy gifts for your baby and invite those spending Christmas Day with you to do the same, so that you have something under the tree with their name on it. Buy a keepsake or something that can be donated afterwards.”

Create A Tradition

Sally Steele, Podcast Host, Style and Mindset Coach and Author of ‘Dare More, Care Less’ (@steelemystyle), who lost her dad Ramsay in 2013, says, “Create a new festive tradition that honours the person who has passed, so that their legacy lives on for future generations. Each year, we give a toast to my dad and do things that he loved to keep his spirit alive, such as playing tennis as a family and dressing up in silly hats and wigs. We also all share one thing that we loved about him.”

Good Mourning podcast is released fortnightly on Friday mornings and is available on Apple PodcastsSpotifyGoogle Podcasts, all other major podcast platforms.

What are your top tips on how to cope with grief and loss during the festive season? Tell us in the comments below.

  • My Mother in Law passed away in October 2020 so have just had our first Christmas without her, hoping time will heal the pain and grief.


  • This will be the second Christmas without my grandma, but the first one for me being home and spending it with that side of the family.
    I also just lost my nana about 4 weeks ago


  • Lost a friend to suicide in July, Christmas get togethers have a huge hole where he should be. In our thoughts, never forgotten. Spend quality time with your loved ones, it’s not the quantity, it’s the quality


  • I have found it hard to cope since losing my husband in 2018 from esophageal cancer. I’m usually surrounded by family and put on a brave face. As soon as I go to bed I let it all out because I don’t want to ruin everyone else’s Christmas. There are times I almost break down when they talk about how Dad would love doing this or remembering what he would say at that but so far no-one has noticed. I used to love Christmas but now I can’t wait for the day to be over. So far I’ve been able to keep my feelings under wraps.


  • We lost my father on Christmas Day 2000 & though we still miss him dearly we have learnt to celebrate his life because he loved Christmases & we want to continue his joy & cheer he had for us all.


  • I have a Christmas bauble with my brothers picture in it that my children help me to place on our tree. I sadly lost my brother when he was 14 in 2009 to a traumatic brain injury that sadly took him away on impact.
    My children love seeing his face on the tree and they always ask me questions about him.


  • I found it hard going out and seeing happy families all around me. Sometimes it is good to stay in with close family and friends. A lot of people say it is good to keep busy but I just felt exhausted all the time. I think it is important to listen to what your body needs. Grieving takes time and sometimes it feels like you’re going backwards.


  • Depending where you are with your grieving at this time, you may just want those close to you, supporting you at this time.
    A toast and a few words honouring those who you are missing from the table, upholds and shows respect for who they were in the life of your family.
    Every year we would put a little Angel at my young sister’s grave site at Christmas. It was very comforting for our family.


  • Spending time with the ones you do have. Quality time is more important than expensive gifts


  • We lost our first son so each year he is apart of our celebrations. We buy him a present for whatever age he would have been and put it under the Kmart wishing tree, he gets a new tree ornament each year, and we decorate his shelf in Christmas stuff.


  • I miss my parents all through but especially on special occasions. Will be volunteering & wrapping gifts for donations too.

    • Aw that is beautiful. My friend does something similar. She lost her mum thsi year. Her mum loved big boxes with gifts. My friend now organises gifts for elderly people who will not receive a gift from anyone this year in memory of her own mum.


  • Loss at any time is incredibly hard to deal with but, at times when everyone around you is celebrating, it can become unbearable …. giving yourself time to grieve is essential and, if that means steering clear of large gatherings, then that is what needs to be done … don’t push yourself while the pain is so raw …


  • Keep in touch with loved ones and don’t disregard someone’s else grief or even troubles. Everyone has different experiences in life so different things makes them feel different ways. Be an open ear to others and they will return the favour. Merry Christmas everyone


  • Stay close to the ones you do have. Spend quality time together. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself for everything to be perfect! It doesn’t have to be


  • The loss of a loved one is always hard on special days like birthday, Xmas, anniversaries, mother’s/father’s day. It’s important to give attention to it and give it a space


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