Christmas can be one of the most challenging periods for grief. It’s normal to feel overwhelmed and want to hide away until it’s all over. We’ve looked at three difficult grief situations at Christmas, and how you might want to deal with them. Still, in whatever way you choose to handle the festive season, remember to be kind to yourself and keep in mind that grieving is a gradual process. There’s no exact way to deal with grief; all you can do is try to acknowledge your emotions and navigate the season in the way that’s best for you.
The difficulty of old traditions
Memories will inevitably rise to the surface during the festive season. This might feel difficult, no matter what stage your grief is at. You might want to keep these traditions going in memory of a loved one. Or alternatively, consider creating new traditions that honour them. Even small nods like lighting a candle, sharing stories, or engaging in activities that celebrate the life of your loved one. This can help redefine the holiday experience and bring a sense of calm and connection.
Overwhelming exposure to Christmas in the media
The countdown to Christmas is inevitably overwhelmed with adverts, films, images, and stories of loved ones enjoying time with their family. Understandably, this might feel too difficult to manage. If it is, try to go a little off-grid – get out in nature, switch your phone to airplane mode and try and distract yourself with things you know will make you happy, or start a new hobby. Ultimately, it’s important to prioritise self-care. Pay attention to your physical and emotional well-being, get enough rest, and engage in activities that bring comfort and peace.
Tell well-wishers how you want to celebrate
Family and friends might rally around you during this period, as they know it’ll be difficult. You might find this incredibly helpful and supportive, or you might feel better having some alone time. However you feel, it’s important to give yourself the space and time you need. Don’t beat yourself up if you need to decline invitations or modify your usual plans if they feel overwhelming. Communicate your needs with friends and family, as this will help them understand and support your grieving process. If you want to celebrate in your loved one’s memory, find a gesture that resonates with you instead of any you feel pressured into doing.
We hope this piece offered practical advice and tips for anyone dealing with grief at Christmas. There’s help out there if you are really struggling, including telephone support, such as The Samaritans and grief support organisations, such as Cruse Bereavement Support. You can also access bereavement counselling via your GP or privately.