Coping without loved ones at Christmas

Christmas is just around the corner and while for many it’s a time to celebrate and have fun, there are lots of lonely and bereaved people who find this time of year very difficult.

After someone close to you has died, any ‘first’ – be it a birthday, anniversary or Christmas – can be particularly hard. There are many ways to help a bereaved friend or family member or things to bear in mind yourself, if you have lost someone recently.

Firstly, if you are bereaved, you may not wish to celebrate at all. This is completely acceptable, and you don’t need to feel pressured into joining in any activity you don’t feel comfortable with. However, you may feel that keeping life as normal as possible is an appropriate way to remember your loved one. Either way, sharing memories with others at some moments during the season may help to bring you together and help the process of grieving.

Don’t feel guilty for accepting help if you are grieving at this time of year; others will enjoy being able to help you. If you aren’t sure if your loved one would like help or if they would like to be left alone, it is often better to ask and be turned down than to stay away. Small steps lead to big milestones, so any contact is better than none and you may find that on another day being sociable is just what is needed.

Plan ahead and be realistic about what you think you can cope with. Don’t forget to make time for yourself; it can be a tiring time when you are grieving, which can increase when you are socialising with others.

If you have children, make new memories with them and include memories of your loved one as much as you feel you can.

Start new traditions, if you think this will be helpful. Visit a place that meant a lot to you and your loved one, either alone or with your friends and family. You could simply light a candle alongside a photo to reflect on happy memories. Perhaps you could even begin to get involved with charities or volunteering at Christmas time.