Five ways to cope with grief at Christmas
Christmas can be a difficult time for those of us who have lost someone special.
It can be hard when everyone is celebrating around you and you are grieving. Below our Bereavement Team have provided their top five tips on how to navigate this difficult time of year.
1. Put yourself first
The most important thing for you right now is to put yourself first. Do what feels right for you, don’t worry about what others will say or think. You have to do what serves you best to help yourself cope. So, if you want to boycott Christmas altogether, that’s fine. If you want to be extra festive and really celebrate, that’s fine too - it’s OK to feel happy when you’re bereaved.
Grief is personal and only you know what is right for you. It is important to be honest with your friends and family about what you feel comfortable with. You may not feel like being around people on the big day, and that is fine. That said, it’s also worth considering that sometimes even though you may not feel like it, being with others can help.
2. Allow yourself time to grieve
Don’t feel that just because it’s Christmas you have to hide your grief. Pretending that you are fine is counterproductive. Reach out and talk to someone if you need to, and be honest about how you are feeling. Sharing the memories of the person you have lost with a friend or family member can be very comforting. But, if you don’t feel that you want to talk to friends or relatives, speak to a counsellor either in person or by using a service like Grief Chat, which allows you to chat online to a specially trained bereavement counsellor. Grief Chat counsellors are experienced in supporting bereaved people and will listen to your story, explore how your grief is affecting you and help you to find any additional support you might need.
It’s easy to lose all sense of routine and structure over the Christmas holidays. Especially during that odd time in between Christmas and new year, when we lose all sense of what day of the week it is! Where possible, it’s good to stick to some sort of routine over the festive season to ensure that you look after yourself. Our minds and bodies like routine, so even if it’s waking up at a set time each day, walking the dog at the same time or undertaking another form of regular exercise at the same time as you’d normally do it, the structure will help.
4. Give to others
It can be easy to feel overwhelmed at this time of year, sometimes giving to others can really help. It’s cathartic. Volunteering is a great way of keeping yourself busy and can be really rewarding. Why not volunteer to deliver food parcels to families in need, or serve meals to those that are alone on Christmas Day? Helping others offers a welcome break from the everyday, and helps to focus your attention on something positive.
Honouring the memory of your loved one by making a donation our Light Up a Life appeal or by creating a dedication page are also ways of doing something special to remember the person that has passed away while helping others.
5. Celebrate their life
It can help to do something special to remember your lost loved ones at this time of year. Incorporating the person that has died into your Christmas traditions is nice way to remember them, for example lighting a candle for them at your local church, hanging their stocking in their honour, or creating a memory box containing special items that remind you of them that you can put out with your decorations or under the tree. You could even still lay a place at the dinner table on Christmas Day in remembrance, or cook their favourite festive treat.
If you have a MuchLoved tribute page for them, you could add a virtual Christmas gift like a card or a teddy to their page. You can even light a virtual candle in their memory. Tributes made in aid of Farleigh Hospice can be made via farleigh.muchloved.org
We hope this guide provides some useful suggestions. Experiencing the loss of a loved one can be extremely difficult at any time, but it can be especially hard over Christmas. If you need help or someone to talk over the Christmas holiday you can access support in the following ways:
- Grief Chat – Grief Chat is a completely free service and is available Monday-Friday, 9am-9pm.
- CRUSE bereavement care helpline - 0808 808 1677
- Samaritans - 116 123
- Farleigh Helpers - call 01245 933800 or email firstname.lastname@example.org and request a call back from one of our friendly helpers.
Farleigh bereavement services Christmas opening hours
The office will be open 29th, 30th and 31st of December. The service will be closed on the weekend and bank holiday days during the Christmas period – 25th to the 28th December and 1st to 3rd of January inclusive. You can email or message the Farleigh Hospice Bereavement Team or Grief Chat outside of these hours.