Facing Christmas without a loved one

Whilst Christmas is often associated with parties and celebrations, the festive season can be a painful time when you are missing someone.  

Whether you are coming to terms with a recent loss, or you are facing Christmas without someone who died a long time ago, this time of the year can be extremely challenging. Everyone copes in different ways and it’s important to be sensitive to the feelings of others.

Bereavement charity Cruse advise that it can often help to spend some time in advance thinking about the best way to spend Christmas and to discuss your plans with family and friends. Some bereaved people decide not to celebrate Christmas at all, whilst others find that celebrating in the usual way serves as a distraction and feel that it is something their loved one would have wanted them to do.

You may see Christmas as an opportunity to remember your loved one with a new tradition, perhaps a visit to their grave, by going to a special place where you once spent time together, or simply by flicking through old photograph albums. You could either do these things alone if you want time for quiet reflection, or you could see it as an opportunity to bring family and friends together to share special memories.  

Experts also stress the importance of routine and self-care at a time when usual schedules are disrupted. Trying to maintain regular sleep and meal patterns can help ensure that you look after yourself properly. And whilst we may be tempted to drink more over the Christmas period, it’s important to remember that alcohol only provides temporary relief from the pain of loss.  

Don’t be afraid to accept offers of help from people. Christmas can be stressful at the best of times, but the first year without a loved one can be especially challenging. Asking people to help you work through your to-do-list can help to ease your burden and give you more space to process your emotions.  

It is often difficult to know what to say or do for someone who has been recently bereaved, and this can be particularly difficult at Christmas. But most people who have lost a loved one will appreciate having people around them who care, even if you’re not always sure what to say.

If you are planning a Christmas celebration, don’t be afraid to get in touch with someone who has suffered a recent loss and invite them to join. You should understand if they don’t accept this time, but they will most likely appreciate you thinking about them and may well want to join you another time.

Facing Christmas without a loved one can feel daunting. But it can help if you give yourself permission to slow down, don’t overdo things and think carefully about how you want to spend the festive season in a way that feels right for you.

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