Christmas is a time of year when we are expected to be joyful and celebrate with family and friends. But when we have lost a loved one, Christmas can feel very different, isolating and a painful reminder of those we have lost.
The run up to the festive season can be an uphill struggle, a painful reminder that not everyone is present to share the celebration. Often this time is harder to cope with than Christmas day itself; a reminder of your loss when buying one less present, writing Christmas cards with a name left off, hanging up decorations alone. This can lead to an avalanche of grief which we sadly can't prepare ourselves for. Cancelling Christmas may seem the easiest option.
Sadly, we can't prepare for these tripwires, but by recognising that they do happen and these overwhelming emotions are normal, will help you look after yourself.
Give yourself space and time; there is never a right or a wrong way to grieve. Do what feels right over Christmas. If you want to set that missing space at the table or hang up that spare stocking, do so. Remembering our loved ones is different for us all.
There is no right way to grieve. Acknowledge that Christmas may be difficult for you or you may want to not celebrate at all. Do what feels right for you.
Don't expect too much of yourself, especially if this is the first Christmas following the loss of your loved one. Grieving is exhausting, so don't expect to have the same energy you have previously had over the festive season.
Honour your loved ones memory. Remembering your loved one can be comforting, with some people believing this puts a positive focus on our grief. Some like to light a candle, visit their loved ones graves, write cards to express memories or what they are missing.
In society we are often expected to carry on and our grief can often feel like a burden to us. Don’t be frightened to talk about your loved one; pick up the phone and speak to friends, families or professionals.
Most importantly if you feel like crying do so. This is part of supporting yourself with the overwhelming feelings when we miss someone.