As the festive period approaches it can be especially hard if you’re dealing with grief. If it’s your first Christmas since suffering a bereavement it can be one of the hardest times to face. Things like anniversaries, birthdays and Christmas seem to amplify the loss. But there are some ways you can help yourself cope if you’re dealing with grief and loss at Christmas.
Everyone deals with grief in a different way and that’s the key to helping you cope and choosing the right strategies to get you through the coming Christmas days…
… so, be selfish and do it the way that’s right for you and your family.
Because it’s the only way.
Loss at Christmas. Break with Tradition…
Even if it’s not the way you would normally do things, celebrating the festive season in a way that is right for you is far more important than celebrating in a way that you think you should be celebrating. Don’t feel pressured to comply with the norm.
And if that means breaking with tradition, then that’s perfectly acceptable. You shouldn’t feel forced into making things harder than they already are.
Always seek comfort in that there is no right or wrong in the way you handle your grief, only the way that’s right for your circumstances.
For example, you could find yourself inundated with advice, and while the intentions of friends or family may be good, grief is personal and it’s key to remember to be kind to yourself.
Only you truly know how you feel when it comes to grief.
So allow yourself the time to heal. And certainly don’t feel guilty about the way you choose to commemorate the loss of a loved one at Christmas.
Other ways you might want to break with tradition could include:
- Spending a few days away somewhere
- Visit other family members
- Spending time with friends
- Going out for Christmas dinner
- Or if you normally go visiting at Christmas, you might want to stay in
- Starting new traditions, for example you might like to plant a flower or light a candle
…or Keep With Tradition
Conversely you may find comfort in doing the same things you did at this time each year. Did you always attend a carol service on Christmas Eve? Perhaps you always prepared the meal in a certain way or wrapped the presents at a certain time. That repetition can you with your feelings of sadness.
Do what’s best for you. But do not feel pressured to celebrate Christmas in a way that doesn’t work for you.
Loss at Christmas with Children
It can be a particularly hard time for children, and to help them cope better you should involve them as much as possible. Ask about their feelings and what they want. They are grieving too and may be bottling up feelings so they don’t worry about upsetting you.
They also might not want to be involved. But the only way to know for sure is to speak with them about their feelings.
Loss at Christmas. Taking Care of Your Physical Well Being
A huge boost to your mental well-being is looking after your physical well-being too. It can be hard to function in the same way when you’ve lost a loved one, but taking time out for regular exercise and trying to maintain sleep routines is vitally important.
It does sound like a cliché but exercise, healthy eating and resting are really helpful in dealing with stress, grief and when you’re having a difficult time in general. Don’t underestimate the role these play.
Christmas is a time of the year when people are more often sociable and their lives are busier. It’s all too easy to skip meals and exercise or not get enough sleep.
If you need a little sleep in the afternoon, don’t feel guilty about it. Just take a nap.
Loss at Christmas. Talking About It
It’s easy to feel isolated at Christmas, but unless it’s some time alone you want, you should accept all the help and support you can get. And talking about your feelings. Let the emotions out; the good, the bad… all of it.
There are certain myths around dealing with grief. But you should never feel the need to be strong or ‘put on a brave face’. A huge part of coping with grief at Christmas is to talk about the person you have lost with friends and family.
You may be feeling devastated but if you have support around you Christmas is also a good time to share a happy memory, remember the good times and express your emotions in their rawness. It may be painful at times but in the long term, bottling up the feelings will only prolong the grief and could even develop into more complicated grief
You may also find that other people don’t know how to help you. But don’t lose heart. Their reactions are more likely that they don’t know how to approach you, rather than that they don’t care. For example, those around might find it hard to wish you a ‘Happy Christmas’ knowing that you’re grieving. Others may find it uncomfortable sending Christmas cards from their family knowing your loss.
Don’t take it to heart. Grief, and interaction with those who are grieving, affects people in all sorts of ways.
And if you’re in this situation as a friend or family member of someone who has recently suffered a loss don’t be oversensitive to the situation. Things have changed and your support will help the bereaved move on with their life in a healthy way.
You might be caught up in the feeling that you have to be solemn but understand that you shouldn’t feel guilty, even if you are experiencing happier moments during the Christmas period.
It’s normal to experience such feelings, especially if you are surrounded by those who care. When these moments come embrace them. Doing so doesn’t reduce your loss, nor your emotional connection to the person you have lost. Nor does it show any lack of respect for their memory. It will help you heal and you should move on from any feelings of guilt.
Bereavement Support with S. Stibbards & Sons Ltd
As part of your funeral service S Stibbards & Sons Ltd offer aftercare. It’s complimentary and if you or your family need any help in coming to terms with a loss you may find it helpful. Just contact the family support team or your funeral arranger, who will make a referral for you.
S Stibbards & Sons Bereavement Support Team:
1032 London Road, Leigh-on-Sea, Essex, SS9 3ND
01702 479315 or firstname.lastname@example.org