11th December 2019.
The emotional pressure of the festive season can be all consuming for those grieving a lost loved one.
Christmas is a magical season, with our homes lit up, sparkling with Christmas lights, it’s also a time when families and friends spend quality time together. However, at Christmas the loss can be felt more acutely than ever! It might be your first or even tenth Christmas without someone that was a significant part of your life or you might have lost a loved one at Christmas. Whatever the circumstances, the absence of someone special will lead to feelings of sadness, with loss and memories of previous Christmas times where the whole family was together.
It’s widely accepted that there are 5 stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance, which do not always happen in that order but acceptance is ideally the final stage. Depending on when your loss occurred, you will likely be going through one of the stages at Christmas and even if you have reached acceptance, it doesn’t mean that you will not still feel sad at this time. How we deal with loss is very individual.
Supporting each other at Christmas is critical. If you lost a family member, it is likely that the whole family will be feeling that loss and it can help to talk about the person that has died, so that you do not feel that you are going through it on your own. Also try to be kind to yourself, if you’ve recently suffered a loss, don’t put pressure on yourself to arrange a huge family Christmas dinner, it might help for the whole family to go out for your Christmas meal instead. You will still be able to talk and remember the deceased but without the glaringly obvious empty chair.
Perhaps it would be helpful to visit the grave or a memorial dedicated to your loved one, this is a way of including them in your day and can often provide great comfort, as people often can feel their presence. Whilst most people tend to drink more alcohol at Christmas time, when we’re grieving it is not always beneficial to try to numb the pain in this way, as when we sober up, the loss will still be there and mental health can also suffer.
If you are suffering loss in the run up to Christmas, we hope that you can seek support from family and friends. However, further support is available from organisations like Cruse Bereavement Care Service. Remember you’re never alone.