Christmas can be a very difficult time for families who are grieving a loved one. If you will be missing someone you loved this holiday season, you may identify with others who have coped with grief at Christmas time.
While grief never fully goes away, there will be times when emotions are much more heightened than others, and when the sense of loss can feel greater. Christmas – the season which celebrates love and family time – is most certainly one of these occasions and as the festivities kick in, so too may your feelings of sadness and dread.
Talk as a family to understand how everyone is feeling.
Some families find it useful to continue old family traditions, whereas others may choose to create a new family tradition e.g. baking a special Christmas cake together.
It may be important to mark the memory of the person that has died by doing something special. This could be visiting a special place, lighting a candle, or buying a new special decoration for the tree.
It might be important to visit the grave or the place where the ashes were scattered and place a Christmas card there.
You could ask friends and family to write special messages to your loved one on star-shaped cut-outs and hang these up on ribbon around the home or on a tree.
Ask other people for their memories of the person who died and begin to compile their ‘life story’. If family members are together at Christmas, it would be a good opportunity to record these. You could include Christmas memories, for example: ‘What was the worst or best present they ever gave you?’ ‘What was their favourite part of the day?’ You could choose to eat their favourite meal – fish and chips? Curry? Egg on toast.
Listen to their favourite music, or their favourite Christmas music.
Make and bake ginger bread people to hang on the tree. You could decorate them with things important to the person who died.
On Christmas Day itself, remember to look after yourself, if things become a bit too much, you could always find a way to take a breather.
Give yourself permission to not be ok and, equally, to have fun and smile.
Try to enjoy the holiday or at least for a moment or two. My thoughts are with you!