How to Deal With Your First Christmas Without Your Brother


When a beloved brother you’re close to dies, your world comes crashing down around you. Grasping the reality of their death seems impossible amid your grief. It’s hard to believe they’re no longer here, and it’s even more challenging to figure out how you will survive without them. Everything you imagined your life to be growing up with your brother, sharing in life’s greatest joys and significant setbacks, all instantly vanish with their death. 

Jump ahead to these sections: 

Brothers play a unique role in the lives of those fortunate enough to experience their love. Brothers can balance the family dynamic, serve as their sibling’s protectors, and provide fun and challenging opportunities when growing up. When that relationship is broken, it can feel devastating. The heartache is profound, and the feelings of grief, shame, and regret take over significantly when their lives are cut too short. 

» MORE: It's time to take your pre-planning seriously. Become a free member.

Tips for Coping With Holiday Grief After the Loss of Your Brother

If you've suffered the loss of a beloved brother, there's no doubt that you're dealing with making sense of their death and all the subsequent losses that follow. From the moment you first get the news to coping with grief during the holidays, it all can seem very painful and overwhelming. When your grief is too much for you to deal with, find comfort knowing that things won't always seem this way. If you're struggling with your grief, here are some ways to help you cope, heal, and remember your brother, especially when facing the first holiday without your loved one.

Let yourself grieve

It's okay to allow yourself to grieve the loss of your brother, despite the holidays going on around you. The world may seem to be going at its same frantic and dizzying pace as everyone gears up for holiday celebrations.

Permit yourself to skip out on all the frenzy as you learn to cope without your loved one this holiday season. Participate in only as much as you want to and can handle. You don't need to give anyone an explanation for choosing to stay home or sitting out on some of the festivities. 

Dedicate time and space to your grief

The holidays usually blur activity, and they go by so quickly. When celebrating the holidays soon after your brother's death doesn't seem right, take a break from it all to be at one with your grief. Spend time away from the hustle and bustle of shopping, decorating, baking, and cooking to sit and reflect on your suffering and how your brother's death affects your feelings and emotions.

Perhaps you haven't had the time to sit and think about it for too long, or maybe you're waiting until after the holidays to figure it all out. While it's okay to set your grief aside now and then, delaying your grieving can harm the healing process in the long run. Take the time to reflect on your loss and emotions, even if it's just long enough to acknowledge that you're grieving.  

Include them in the celebrations

Find unique ways of incorporating your brother’s memory into your holiday celebrations this year. You can find subtle ways to include them in your usual holiday traditions to add meaning to your festivities. Consider baking their special holiday dessert or cooking their favorite meal. You can decorate your holiday tree with ornaments that have a special memory attached for you and your family. Other ways to include your brother might be:

  1. Setting a place for them at the dinner table
  2. Honoring them with an altar in your home
  3. Decorating their graveside with Holiday themed decor

Ways to Remember Your Deceased Brother on Christmas

The first Christmas without your brother will most likely be one of the more challenging ones to get through. Although it gets easier as the years pass, the first and second holidays without a loved one are usually the most profoundly painful ones. Depending on what time of year your brother died, you might still be in a blur when the first Christmas comes around. Not until the second one approaches is when the pain of their absence hits the hardest. 

You can find ways to ease that pain by remembering your brother and honoring their life during the holidays. Doing so will help you cope with your loss and add new meaning to your holidays. Here are some unique ways to remember your deceased brother on Christmas and every special day that follows:

» MORE: Save $$$ and time with our tools. Start now.

Have a memorial service

Honoring your brother’s life and legacy at Christmas makes the holidays that much more special for you and your family. While not everyone will want reminders of their loss during every holiday, you can make this a small part of your holiday traditions to remember your loved one while not making the entire holiday about grief and loss.

Memorial services can be as simple as having a special meal dedicated to their memory or as elaborate as a candlelight vigil on Christmas Eve. You are in control of whatever works best for you and your family during the holidays. 

Plant new trees

For every Christmas tree you and your family chops down each year, you can commit to planting new ones in honor of your brother’s memory. Planting new trees is a perfect way to get the family together to do something good for the environment while honoring the life and legacy of your deceased loved one.

You can choose to plant any tree; it doesn’t have to be a Christmas tree. Another alternative is to donate equal money to a local environmental preservation organization that helps fund local beautification projects in your brother’s name. 

Poems to Read While Missing Your Brother This Christmas

Many holiday grief quotes and particular poems help ease the pain of suffering when thinking of a loved one who’s died. When you’re at a loss for words describing the pain you feel inside, these poems might help you understand your grief reactions while helping you find meaning in your grief.

People who are grieving often rely on poetry, music, and art to help them cope with their pain and suffering. The poems below are some popular ones dealing with the death of a brother that might resonate with you and help you in your sorrow. 

My Big Brother by Michelle Meleen

This hauntingly beautiful poem helps the bereaved soul reflect on the relationship with their beloved brother as they were growing up, the painful emotions that followed their death, and the way their memory lives on afterward. 

My big brother you were:
always taller,
always faster,
always braver,
than me.

My big brother when you died:
you loved me,
you left me,
you hurt me.

My big brother, now you are:
still braver,
still loving,
still gone.

A Little Lost  by Carolyne Lloyd-Hartley

This poem describes the feelings of melancholy, pain, and loss following a brother’s death, remembering a life shared and love lost. It discusses the pain of letting go but realizing that she must move forward from the heartache and sorrow. 

A little lost is the term I would say,
Just another hour, just another day.
It will get better tell the folk all around,
I'm seeing, I'm listening, I'm not hearing a sound.

A numbness encircles me, stupid, I know,
It's been a while now, I should really let go.
I miss him so much, A huge hole in my heart,
I can't seem to move on without him being part.

All those years, all those fights, all those drinks at the bar,
Through my kids, through my cries, he was never too far.
My heart knows he is here, he'll make sure I'm just fine.
My Protector, My Friend, That Brother of mine

» MORE: Everyone's life is worth celebrating. These tools keep their memory close.

How to Talk to Others About Your First Christmas Without Your Brother

Talking about the death of a brother to others isn’t always easy, especially if they’ve never had a brother or experienced this type of unique loss. Your pain and suffering may not consistently be recognized or even understood. Don’t lose hope if those around you don’t acknowledge or validate your loss. Keep sharing your story even when it’s painful or if it seems you’re not getting through. Here are some helpful tips for sharing your truth.

Tell your story

Sharing your story of love and loss with others during the holidays will help you cope with the painful feelings or even the numbness you may be experiencing. When talking to others about your loss, remember that not everyone is comfortable talking about death, and many people don’t know what to say or how to react to your pain and suffering.

You can always preface the conversation by saying upfront that you know it’s difficult for them to be a part of this conversation while explaining how much it helps you heal from your loss. 

Involve them in the conversation

Ask your friends and loved ones to share the most compelling, funny, or awkward moments they remember involving your deceased brother. You may find yourself surprised by how they reflect your sibling.

We don’t often get the chance to reminisce about old times or the right opportunities to bring up something funny or life-changing from the past. Sharing fond memories of loved ones from times past is a safe way to talk about your love and loss without making people feel uncomfortable.

First Holidays After a Brother’s Death

Celebrating the holidays after your brother dies won’t feel like typical holidays from years past. You’ll find that there’s a considerable emptiness now that they’re gone. It will take some time to feel your usual self again and find joy in the season.

Try to think of all the reasons you have to celebrate in the meantime as you learn to navigate your new reality. Your brother’s death doesn’t have to end joyful celebrations. In time, you’ll learn to balance the memories you have of them with the promises of new memories and experiences of holidays to come. 

Icons sourced from FlatIcon.