Hygge & Grief: Coping Through the Long Hard Winter

Grieving in winter is no easy thing, and for those of us who live in the cold and snowy parts of the country, we may dread the forced isolation winter weather brings. The Danish (who themselves can suffer very long and dark winters) have adopted an idea that I think could apply well to those who are grieving this time of year. It’s called hygge.


The origin of the word is disputed, but most agree that it’s derived from a Danish word meaning, “to give courage and comfort”. Some say it’s simply rooted in the word “hug”.

Whatever the origin, the idea behind hygge is simple. Rather than dreading the cold winter days, we view this as a time of respite and relaxation instead. Cozy blankets, fuzzy socks, fireplaces, dim lights, and mugs of tea so big you need both hands to hold them…these are some of the images that come to mind when Danes are describing hygge.

Now to the griever feeling just a bit raw, this may all sound a little too cute, like something you’d see in the pages of “Country Living” magazine (in fact I’m pretty sure I did see an article about hygge there at one time). So why and how would this apply to grief?

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“Owed to My Mother” ~A Personal Account

Every now and then we receive requests to contribute stories from those who have sustained a loss. It’s what our forums, “See and Share Stories” are all about. Because the act of sharing a grief story can help the teller as much as it does the person hearing it. “Owed to my Mother” is a new book based on Nadine Keahon’s journey leading up to and following the loss of her own mother.


There are a lot of books on grief and loss, but this one has a different take. Instead of a self-help model, this book is written as historical fiction, to help make it both relatable and readable.

In mid-2004, Nadine, a self-confessed workaholic, received a promotion that felt like she had achieved the pinnacle of her career. But a month into this new role, she found out her mother had stage 4 cancer. Nadine was forced to choose between her career and her family. In her first book, Owed to My Mother, Nadine chronicles the story that unfolds from there—with heartfelt humor, sarcasm, and love.

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Need Help with Your Grief? Try this

There’s a lot of great articles out there about how to help a loved one through grief…unfortunately they will only be found by the friends and family who search for them.


I think it’s important to remember, that while there’s a lot of people who want to help and be supportive, a loved one’s grief can make them feel so helpless they are practically paralyzed by it. Meaning the very helpful advice that’s out there may never actually make it to them. Perhaps because they assume it’s too far out of their power to help.

That’s why when it comes to getting the grief support that you want, it may mean having to tell others what you need. I say this to a lot to grievers and I’m often met with at least some resistance. “Me?”, a griever may ask, “I have to help other people help me?”.

The answer is yes…sort of.

Continue reading Need Help with Your Grief? Try this