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?

Because hygge isn’t actually about stuff. It’s a state of mind, and it’s a reminder that at some point we all need to slow down, turn inward, and gives ourselves a little time to rest. It’s not about what you have or what you don’t have…

  1. It’s about taking care of yourself
  2. It’s about taking a break from the hustle of a hectic routine
  3. It’s about a shift in perspective and trying to find small comforts in difficult times

And it’s the bigger lesson of taking what we have and doing what we can to find just a little joy, however small, in our daily lives.

Reconnect with someone you’ve lost touch with. Get all the ingredients and take an afternoon to make YOUR favorite meal. Pick up an old hobby or find something to do with your hands like puzzles, knitting, crafts. Listen to music, read a good book, spend a day on the couch watching old movies…

You get the idea.

In the end, hygge is just a fancy and hard to pronounce word for taking care of yourself in tough times. Grief is exhausting and some days it may feel like your full time job. Yes, winter is hard. Icy roads and bitter cold can cut us off from our normal activities and the outside world, and for the griever already feeling isolated by their loss, the prospect of even more quiet and seclusion may not seem all that appealing.

So we find small ways to make the best of our forced hibernation, and remember that some day the sun will shine, and Spring will come again…


Being isolated is a real concern for the griever. The best thing about www.griefincommon.com? You don’t ever have to leave the warmth and comfort of your home to get the support and connection you need. 

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2 thoughts on “Hygge & Grief: Coping Through the Long Hard Winter”

  1. Interesting, living in Wa. It rains a lot in the winter, at other times too.! I plan when it starts being dark early and hugged is a good idea. Only thing is with grief is sometimes I can only cry!

  2. I love this. Grieving does feel like a long cold winter, with no end in sight.
    I’m still waiting for my spring.

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