Whether it's your first Christmas after a bereavement, or you lost someone long ago, Christmas can be a particularly painful time. Discover these methods for coping with grief at Christmas.
We know that facing Christmas alone, or whilst grieving, can be a daunting prospect. Here are some practical ways to cope with the loss of a loved one over Christmas.
1. Consider different ways of celebrating
One of the things that can help can be to spend some time trying to work out, well in advance, which arrangements will best suit your needs and the needs of others who share your loss. Some bereaved people find that they do not wish to celebrate Christmas at all, whilst some find that simply maintaining their routine and celebrating as normal is the best tribute they can pay their loved one. It may feel important to make a special effort to remember the person who has died. This can be as simple as ‘speaking’ to the person, silently or out loud, or it may involve visiting their grave, or a place that was special to them. These can be things that we do alone, or with friends or family. You may have photos or particular memories which you treasure; sharing these with others may be something that brings you together.
2. Accept that others may have different ways of mourning
We know that people remember and mourn in different ways. Conflict within a family can sometimes arise when we have expectations of how others should grieve, so try to be sensitive to others’ needs, and to talk openly about what will be best for you.
3. Try to maintain a routine
The Christmas period may mean that your normal routine is disrupted, and this can make it easier to forget to look after yourself. Trying to keep to regular patterns of sleeping and eating are small things that can make a difference. Seeing friends or family, or volunteering for the day, can all help.
4. Limit your alcohol consumption
We can all drink more on festive occasions, but it’s important to remember that using alcohol to escape the pain of loss provides only very temporary relief. If you find you're relying heavily on drinking alcohol, consider taking some drink free days. You can also find advice from Drink Aware on how to reduce your alcohol consumption.
5. Aim to focus on the present
As time passes, special occasions like Christmas can help us to begin to focus on happier memories of good times shared in the past. However they can also be difficult, intensely emotional times when we need to look after ourselves and those around us.
6. Skip the Christmas films
While you might think watching a film is a welcome distraction, consuming Christmas content might leave you feeling worse. Instead, consider taking or a walk or getting some fresh air in any way you can.
7. Talk to someone
If you're struggling to deal with the grieving process over Christmas, you can call the Cruse National Helpline on 0808 808 1677, see here for opening hours. Alternatively you can message a trained grief counsellor using our CruseChat service 9am - 9pm Monday - Friday.