Christmas is a magical time of year, the season to be jolly with everyone seemingly enjoying themselves and festive merriment everywhere - but it can also be a time of great sadness when the loss of a loved one is brought strongly into focus.
Flashing fairy lights, laughing Santa’s, bars and restaurants full of people having a really good time and continuous choruses of Happy Christmas from everyone you come into contact with can only increase that awful pain that accompanies loss.
The reality is of course, that not everyone is having a great time, and there are an awful lot of people feeling the same things you are - but that is no consolation and the general happy feel to Christmas only heightens your feeling of melancholy.
It’s a difficult time we know and whether it’s the first Christmas without your loved one or the 20th, those pangs of pain will remain. But if Christmas evokes stronger memories of a lost loved one for you, why not try and turn it into an opportunity to celebrate their life, the things they loved doing and the memories you shared?
Ways to remember
- There are a number of things you can do to remember your loved one at Christmas and here are a few ideas:
- Leave a personalised message on a Tree of Light - this is becoming increasingly popular and there is almost certainly one near you.
- Make or buy a personalised item that reminds you of something they loved doing.
- Pay a visit to the grave or site where your loved one’s ashes were scattered.
- Go for a family walk around an area which was special to them.
- If your family has particular ways of celebrating Christmas each year, begin a new tradition in memory of your loved one.
- Hang up a Christmas stocking for them on Christmas Eve.
- Lay a spare place at the Christmas dinner table.
- Watch a Christmas film or listen to some festive music which were particular favourites.
- Remember your loved one in a Christmas toast.
- Revisit the family photo album or video.
- You may consider volunteering your services - an excellent way of keeping busy and helping others at the same time.
You can also set yourself a manageable timetable over the Christmas period, agree to do what you feel you can do but don’t overstretch your capabilities and emotions. Talk to family and friends about what you are thinking and feeling and avoid cutting yourself off from everyone - but above all don’t place great expectations or targets on yourself that will be difficult to attain.
If you would like further support, there are organisations that have specially trained people who can help. Oftentimes people may even find it easier to talk to a stranger about bereavement.
We have a page on our website specifically designed to help people cope with bereavement. It includes a free, confidential one to one texting service from GriefChat and a list of useful organisations that are ready to help. All the details can be found here.