Your first Christmas after losing a loved one can be incredibly difficult. This is the time of year that is spent with family and friends. When we have recently suffered a bereavement, that person is no longer with us to share the joy of Christmas and for many, Christmas can become a time of sadness and loneliness. Your first Christmas following a bereavement will be hard, but there are a number of things you can do to help the season be more enjoyable.
Below we explore 12 ways to cope with Christmas after suffering a loss. We hope they help you.
There is no expectation for you to have a 'normal' Christmas. So, take the pressure off yourself and accept that this year will be different and that it really is ok to feel sad, angry or not festive, no matter what happens.
Even though it is Christmas, and you may feel it's not the right time to talk about your loss, the truth is that it really is ok to talk about your loved one. Christmas is a time of joy, love and celebration, and family and friends will want to hear your stories.
Many people feel that they have to stay in the family home during the Christmas period, but there is no law to say that you have to do so. If you would prefer to get away from it all and have a change of scenery then go for it. Book a festive getaway somewhere that will help you begin to heal.
It may help to buy a present and to then give it to a local charity. You may want to buy a gift that you would have given to your loved one. You'll gain much satisfaction from knowing that your gift will help another person.
Share with friends and family, or indeed the wider community how much this person meant to you. Write a tribute for everyone to read. Create a poem or paint a picture. If you feel that words or images will help you during this festive period then go for it.
Asking for help is not a sign of weakness. We all need help at some point in our lives, and for many people, Christmas is a difficult time. You may need help in the form of practical things such as getting out and about, or it may simply be the need to speak to another human being.
It is so very important to look after yourself. Don't drink too much in an attempt to numb the pain, as this never works. Be sure to eat well and get plenty of sleep. The more energised and healthier you feel, the more you'll be able to deal with the Christmas period.
If your tradition was to hang a stocking up on Christmas Eve, then replace your loved one's with a memory box. You can place anything in this, such as photos, notes, letters or items, and get members of the family to do the same. Then on Christmas morning you can sit and remember them.
Don't bottle up your feelings, just because it is Christmas and you think you have to be happy and cheerful. It really is acceptable to grieve and to show your emotions. It simply shows how much you cared for the person you have lost, so embrace those feelings and allow them to give you comfort.
This may seem a little morbid over the Christmas period but it should be seen as a form of celebration and a way for you to express your feelings. A loss journal is something that only you will see. It is a safe space for you to express yourself, when talking or sharing your feelings with others seems like an impossible task.
Christmas time has always been a time of giving and being thankful for what we have. This should be embraced as it can help you during such a sad time in your life. Perhaps you could volunteer at a soup kitchen, visit elderly neighbours or simply help other members of the family, such as babysitting duties so they can have a night out.
Finally, our last tip is that you shouldn't feel guilty. However you choose to spend Christmas, do things your own way.