Grieving at Christmas
Whether this is your first year without your loved one, or several years have passed, Christmas can be a particularly difficult season for anyone who is grieving. A time that is meant for celebration suddenly becomes filled with painful memories, and feelings of loss can be further intensified. If you are facing Christmas without a loved one this year and are feeling at a loss, we share a few tidbits of advice on how to cope during the festive period.
To celebrate, or let it pass…
You may decide that you do not want to celebrate Christmas this year. This is absolutely fine. If you do not feel ready to face the festivities, do not feel you have to force yourself to do so. For some, it can be easier to treat December 25th as simply another day. Spend the day doing what you want to do, getting jobs done or focusing on other things. Sometimes, the idea of the day itself is just too overwhelming to contemplate. If celebrating Christmas feels too hard, do not feel guilty about letting it pass without ceremony this season.
Volunteering at Christmas
If the thought of being at home this Christmas without your loved one is too much to bear, consider volunteering somewhere that needs help on Christmas Day. Animal rescue centres, nursing homes and homeless shelters often need volunteers to help with things like serving food or cleaning up. By focusing your energies on helping others, it may provide a welcome distraction to the pain of the day. Check out websites like do-it.org to find volunteering opportunities near you.
Do Not Feel Guilty
Similarly, do not feel guilty should you decide to celebrate. After a bereavement, it can feel like you’ll never enjoy anything again. But slowly you will find that joy can still appear. Celebrating the season is not to say you aren’t still suffering or that you are forgetting the person. For many people, the first time laughing or really smiling after a bereavement can sometimes come as a surprise, with unpleasant feelings of betrayal towards your loved one. But try to remember that they would want happiness for you. It is not a betrayal to find happiness.
Take time to care for yourself at Christmas. Allow time to do activities you want to do. Treat yourself. Whether that’s a day of relaxation or engaging in a favourite activity. If you were previously the person that everyone looked to for organising the celebration, maybe this year is the time to allow others to take over and to allow you more time for you. Alternatively, some might enjoy being kept busy. Again, it is totally up to you. Give yourself the time and space you need to process your grief.
Old and New Traditions
When you lose someone, Christmas will never be the same again. Perhaps you had special traditions that you always did together. Don’t be afraid to remember these at Christmastime. You could even create a new ritual of remembrance. Visit their grave or light a candle to include their memory as part of the celebration. If you’re celebrating with people who knew your loved one, you could each share a favourite memory of the person or recite a poem or quote.
It can be tempting to ‘disappear’ around this time. To shut yourself away from those around you who are celebrating. This can make you feel more isolated and alone, however. Even if you plan to spend the season by yourself, try to reach out to someone you trust. Send a text, or pick up the phone. Ask a friend to call you and talk with you about how you’re feeling and share memories of your loved one.
Cry If You Need To
Don’t feel guilty for feeling sad or crying when spending time with people this Christmas. Especially if it is your first Christmas since the person’s death, you will be experiencing something unlike anything you have ever felt before. Deal with those emotions as they come. Don’t try to push them down, only to have them crop up later. If you need to reach out, feel free to do so. You can always contact The Samaritans on 0845 790 9090 if you need someone to listen.
Do What Feels Right For You
Ultimately, there is no ‘should’ or ‘should not’ as to how you choose to spend this season. Don’t let anyone dictate to you how to spend the season. Hopefully, some of the above suggestions will help as you approach this tricky time of year. From all of us at Caerphilly Funeral Services, our thoughts are with you this Christmas.