Coping with Grief at Christmas

1 December 2021
 | 
Rebecca Noble

Coping with grief when everyone else is celebrating can be incredibly difficult. We share a few simple suggestions to help your families cope during the festive season.

For Your Families: Coping this Christmas
  1. Put themselves first

If your families want to cover their house in decorations and go full-on Christmas, that’s fine. If they don’t want a hint of glitter or tinsel and want to ignore the season entirely whenever possible, that’s fine too. Christmas is a time for kindness, so the main thing that they should try and remember is to be kind to themselves, whatever that entails. Being honest with family and friends is crucial, and explaining what they feel comfortable with at this time of year.

Your clients may not feel like they want to celebrate on the day at all; sometimes taking themselves out of the situation is the best thing they can do. That said, participating and laughing and smiling are also fine - it’s okay to feel happy when you’re bereaved.

  1. Find some structure

Try and stick to some sort of routine over the festive season, if possible. It’s all too easy without our normal patterns to guide us to forget to look after ourselves. Whether it’s walking their dog at the same time each day, calling a relative each evening or reading another chapter of a book, some sort of structure and sense of routine can be helpful. 

  1. Allow themselves to grieve

They shouldn't feel that they have to hide their grief over the festive season and pretend that everything is okay. Reaching out to someone and talking about the person they've lost can be helpful, be that family or friends who can share memories of that person, or connecting with a counsellor, like the experts at GriefChat. Sharing their feelings may help them cope, and make the season a little more bearable. 

  1. Celebrate their life

Your families may want to start some new traditions to remember their loved ones, or incorporate the person that has died into the traditions they already have, as a special way to remember them. 

They might want to continue to hang their stocking in their honour, or create a ‘memory box’ to put out, with special items that remind them of that person. They can add a beautiful virtual gift to their MuchLoved tribute page, like a card or a teddy, or even light a virtual candle on their page. 

Your supporters might decide to have a Christmas wreath at home, or even a small tree with special decorations that celebrate the life of the person they've lost. Some people still lay a place at the table to remember their loved ones, or they could cook their favourite festive meal in their honour, or light a candle in their memory. 

  1. Give to others

At a time when nothing feels normal, and it's easy to feel overwhelmed, sometimes giving to others can be incredibly cathartic. For example, your families could make a charitable donation in honour of their loved ones, or could buy a gift for a Toy Bank or shelter in their name. They might also like to consider volunteering, for example volunteering to serve festive meals on Christmas Day, or delivering food parcels to families in need. Helping others can offer a break from their normal activities, and help them focus their attention on something positive over the festive season. 

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