Coping with a loss at Christmas

Christmas is often a difficult time for those coping with loss. Whether the person died recently or a long time ago, Christmas can bring up many different emotions for the bereaved, and some people find it harder to cope. Whilst you can’t take away the pain of grief, some simple wellbeing measures may help to ease some of the intensity of what you feel.

Why is grief harder to cope with at Christmas?

For many people, Christmas is a time to come together to spend quality time with your loved ones. It’s often a time for traditions, making memories and spending time with family. This can make us miss the people who are no longer in our lives, and make feelings of grief grow stronger.

Some people find it harder to control their emotions, some people will have extreme highs followed by extreme lows, others may feel lonely or isolated. Remember there is no one thing you should be feeling, and grief can present itself in many different and unexpected ways. You may also notice that other people grieve very differently from you, and wonder why you feel the way you do.

Try to recognise and accept whatever it is you are feeling and offer yourself some compassion. It may be helpful to prepare for your grief to intensify, so take extra care of yourself in the lead up to Christmas as well as over the festive period itself. Remember, you are not alone and help is available should you need it.

Ways to cope with your grief at Christmas

Prioritise your wellbeing – Taking some simple steps to look after yourself is one of the most important things you can do. It’s the little things that make the biggest difference; getting enough sleep, eating nutritious food and drinking enough water, avoiding excess alcohol, doing gentle exercise and getting out in the fresh air can all make a big difference to your wellbeing.

Take a Christmas break – If it all starts to feel too much, schedule a ‘Christmas break’. This could mean taking some time to be on your own or doing an activity that isn’t related to Christmas. It could mean avoiding festive films, TV shows and music that intensify your grief. Remember, it’s okay not to be okay, and if you need to cancel or change plans to help you through Christmas or New Year then you should do so.

Talk about it – Talking about your feelings is easier for some people than others, but it is often one of the most helpful things a grieving person can do. Talking offers a way to process emotions in a more logical way and may help you acknowledge what you are feeling. It also helps others know that you are having a hard time. Not everyone has someone close that they can talk to, so consider calling a bereavement helpline or booking some time with a bereavement counsellor can be just as beneficial.

Give yourself permission to enjoy Christmas – If you are someone who typically loves Christmas, you may feel guilty for enjoying the festivities instead of being in mourning. Give yourself permission to enjoy spending time with family and friends, see it as a welcome break from your grief. It doesn’t mean you have forgotten the person who has died or that their memory is fading. Grief tends to come in waves, and many people experience moments of feeling better in amongst their feelings of loss.

Create new traditions – Some family traditions may feel difficult to continue with after a person has died. Creating new traditions may help you work through some of the difficult emotions you are feeling. You could do a toast for them before serving Christmas dinner, light a candle in their name, visit their favourite place on Christmas Day, or create a decoration in their name. Whilst some rituals may be one-off occasions, others may become important new traditions for your family.

What to do if you’re finding it hard to cope

For some people, getting through Christmas will feel impossible, and they may need additional help and support to get them through. Emotional support is available for anyone who needs it.

Reach out to your GP to discuss how you are feeling, or book an appointment with a bereavement counsellor. At Dillamore we work with Associate Bereavement Counsellor, Carole Warren, who has more than 20 years’ experience supporting the bereaved. Let us know if you’d like us to put you in touch.

Alternatively you could reach out to a local or national bereavement charity who can provide you with resources and support, including 24/7 helplines for you to speak to someone in your time of need. Some national bereavement charities include;

For children and young people:

Also research what local charities can provide bereavement support. Leighton Buzzard is fortunate to have a charity called Reclaim Life, which is based on Bridge Street in the town centre. Reclain Life is dedicated to promoting emotional wellbeing for anyone who needs it.

If you are bereaved and would like to speak to our team, call us on 01525 372 210 or email us via our contact form. We are here to support you during this difficult time.

If you are bereaved and would like to speak to our team, call us on 01525 372 210 or email us via our contact form. We are here to support you during this difficult time.

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