Tips for managing your grief over Christmas

Woman holding lighted string of lights

Christmas is a time to take a moment out of our hectic daily lives, to stop and to come together with loved ones, friends and family. It is also a time to remember those that may no longer not be with us, and it can be an emotional time as the festivities trigger feelings of grief – whether your loss is recent or perhaps decades ago. Inevitably it becomes a time of reflection and remembrance, drawing upon thoughts of times when that person or people were all together sat around the dinner table or enjoying Christmas traditions. With every passing year, whilst the initial raw grief may fade, the memories remain.

Grief is a normal, healthy reaction to experiencing a bereavement – it is a different experience for all of us and is not something we should shy away from. Grief, at any time of the year, but perhaps more so over Christmas, should be embraced and managed rather than pushed aside or hidden.

To help navigate such emotionally challenging times, here are some suggestions which we hope may help you and your family to manage your grief.

1. Share your grief

Talk about the person or people who are no longer with you, being open and saying their name or sharing stories from the past will help others to feel closer. There is a perception that it's appropriate to not talk about the person or people who are no longer present to spare the feelings of others, but the truth is that by talking about them, you will feel closer.

2. Don’t skip on traditions

Similarly, people feel that it is better to skip on traditions out of respect for the person who is no longer there, again to not want to cause offense or upset to others. But in truth, keeping these traditions alive is the best way to keep the memory of the person who has died close to you.

3. Make time for your grief

Whilst Christmas is a wonderful opportunity to take some much-needed downtime, it can also become a source of stress in all the preparations, wrapping, cooking and socialising, with to-do lists pages long. Taking the time out to express your feelings and show your grief is a perfectly healthy thing to do – in many ways allowing yourself to feel your grief opens up the deepest part of yourself. Your grief isn’t something you should hide away, give yourself both the chance and the time to fully express it.

4. Be kind to yourself

Christmas time is hard, but it’s a time that can be extra difficult when you are grieving. Try to remember to be kind to yourself and allow yourself to spend this Christmas and all future Christmases to be filled with joy and grief. Grief is not something you ‘get over’, but is something you learn to live with – so always remember to be gentle and kind with yourself.

    For further support on how you can manage your grief, there are various organisations and charities which can help following the death of someone close. We have listed some below, but there are many local ones too, who offer tremendous support.

    1. Hope Again – for young people needing support following a loss: https://www.hopeagain.org.uk/
    2. Widowed and Young – for younger people who have lost a partner: https://www.widowedandyoung.org.uk/
    3. Cruse Bereavement – for support after a loss: https://www.cruse.org.uk/
    4. The Lullaby Trust – for support for those following an unexpected loss of a baby or young child: https://www.lullabytrust.org.uk/bereavement-support/
    5. Childhood Bereavement Network – a hub for anyone supporting bereaved children http://www.childhoodbereavementnetwork.org.uk/
    6. WYG – ‘What’s your grief’ – supporting a wide variety of losses, and ways to cope: https://whatsyourgrief.com/death-of-a-sibling/
    7. The Samaritans – help for anyone dealing with any type of loss or issue: https://www.samaritans.org/
    8. UK Care Guide – providing support on all aspects relating to elderly care, this helpful infographic details the steps to be taken immediately after a loss: https://ukcareguide.co.uk/dealing-with-bereavement/