Coping with Grief at Christmas

Whether it's your first Christmas since they died, or you lost someone many years ago, Christmas can be a particularly painful time. We’re here to help you cope with how you’re feeling.

How to cope with grief at Christmas

When you’re grieving, the thought of celebrating Christmas can be really daunting. For those having to isolate and with changing restrictions, finding the right way to celebrate can be even more difficult. It’s important to look after yourself and work out the best ways to cope throughout the season.

Supporting yourself over Christmas

  •  Consider different ways of celebrating

Try planning in advance how you’ll celebrate. You may not feel the need to celebrate Christmas at all. Or, you might find sticking to at least some of your normal Christmas traditions  is the best way to support your family and pay tribute to the person who died. It’s important to do what’s right for you and try not to feel pressured into doing anything you’re not comfortable with. If you’re unable to celebrate due to social distancing restrictions, remember there’s nothing wrong with celebrating in the New Year or finding a new date that works for you.

  • Find ways to remember them 

This can be as simple as ‘speaking’ to the person, silently or out loud, visiting their grave, or a place that was special to them. These things can be done alone or with friends or family. You may have photos or memories which you can share to bring you together. 

  •  Accept that others may have different ways of grieving.

We know that people remember and mourn in different ways. Sometimes families can find it difficult when they have different ideas about how to grieve and this can lead to arguments. Try to be sensitive to others’ needs, and talk openly together about what will be best for you all.

  •  Try to maintain a routine.

The Christmas period may disrupt your normal routine, and this can make it harder to look after yourself. Keeping regular patterns of sleeping and eating where possible can make a difference. Seeing friends and family, or volunteering for the day, are all small things that can help. If you’re having to isolate over Christmas, try to make sure you make time for movement and regular meals.

  •  Look after yourself

It can be tempting to drink more during the festive period and it can feel like a drink may help numb the pain. But it’s important to remember that using alcohol or recreational drugs only provides temporary relief. If you find yourself drinking to cope, it might be time to seek help. Get support.

  • Take a break from Christmas films and TV

It can be tough when you are surrounded by happy images of families celebrating. If it is getting too much, consider taking a break from TV and social media and getting some fresh air instead.

  •  Talk to someone

If you’re struggling to deal with grief over Christmas, you can call the Cruse Helpline on 0808 808 1677, see here for opening hours. Or you can message a grief counsellor using our CruseChat service.

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We're here to support you, no matter how long it's been.