How to deal with grief at Christmas

Christmas is meant to be a happy time when you get together with friends, family and loved ones. But for some who may have recently lost someone, it can be a particularly difficult period when the absence of that person can be felt even more.

When you’re grieving, socialising can be tough, and a person may feel added pressure, aware that others are keen to see them coping and getting on with life.

While some may find doing the usual Christmas is the last thing they feel like they can do, others may find comfort in sticking to the traditions, routines and family rituals they’ve always enjoyed.

It might feel like life has changed forever without that person in it anymore, so it can be good to keep some things the same. It’s OK to try and enjoy yourself and have some fun while still remembering and grieving for that person.

There are no rules on how to grieve ‘properly’ at Christmas. But some of you might find some of these tips helpful to get through the holiday period. As with all things, when you are grieving, there’s no right way. It’s about finding what works for you.

If you don’t feel like doing something, it’s OK not to do it.

If you’re not up to the office Christmas Party, or putting up the traditional Christmas decorations, for instance, don’t worry about it this year.

Remember that person in a special way.

A small gesture, like putting an ornament on the tree for them, or giving a gift to their favourite charity in their name, keeps them part of your Christmas.

Give yourself permission and time to grieve.

As you get closer to the day, your grief could increase. Don’t try and ignore it. Have a cry and let yourself feel sad about the person you love. You don’t always have to try and seem happy to others. Tell someone close to you, or spend time with them, to get a bit of extra support.

Remember the good things and the good times you had together.

Think about all the things that made them special to you. Do something you used to do together or visit a favourite place or spot where you spent good times with each other.

Include them in your Christmas.

Sending them a card letting them know what you’re feeling or putting up a decoration on the tree for them, keeps them part of your Christmas.

Look after yourself.

Get some exercise, go for a walk, see a movie, have dinner at a restaurant or grab some of your favourite takeaway. And, while it’s not always easy at this time of year, try and eat well and don’t over-indulge.

Talk to someone.

It always helps to share how you’re feeling. Don’t bottle up your emotions. Connecting with someone you trust or a professional, who is there to listen and support you, is always a good idea to get support and help you cope with your grief.

The important thing to remember is that while you are grieving the loss of someone you love, you’re not alone. If you are already signed up to CiC’s EAP, our counsellors can support you through this time.