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Coping With Grief at Christmas Time

Grief is never easy no matter the season but it can be especially hard at Christmas time, with an emphasis on spending time with those you love, and so many memories and reminders, plus the added pressures that the festive season can bring. When you see other people spending time with their families, whether in real life or on screen, it can be particularly hard to bear if you’ve lost someone important to you. Here are some of the ways you can try to enjoy the festive season while grieving.

This article was written in collaboration with HMV.

Share Memories

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Christmas is often a time when we begin to look back and reflect on the past year and years gone by. You could use this as an opportunity to look back fondly on previous Christmases spent with your loved one and remember how special they were. Don’t be afraid to talk about your lost loved one with family and friends and ask others who knew them to share their favourite memories and stories too.

Visit Their Resting Place

If you’re grieving for someone this Christmas, set aside time to visit their resting place, whether that’s their gravestone, where their ashes were scattered or somewhere that was special to you both, where you can feel connected with your loved one.

You could lay a holly wreath or festive flowers and take a few moments to tell them how missed they are or update them on what’s happening in your life. If this is something you struggle with or doesn’t feel natural to you, then you might want to focus on something practical you could do instead, such as clean their headstone or memorial plaque.

Do Things They Would Have Enjoyed

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Rather than shy away from reminders of them this Christmas, don’t be afraid to do things your loved one enjoyed. Put on one of their favourite DVDs or listen to their favourite Christmas songs. If they had a favourite Christmas dish you could serve it to friends and family on Christmas day. This can help you feel closer to the person you’ve lost, and ensure that they’re still a part of your celebrations, even though they are no longer with you in person.

Be Kind to Yourself

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Christmas can be overwhelming at the best of times, let alone when you’re grieving so be patient and gentle with yourself and don’t be afraid to turn down invites or say no to things you don’t feel ready for or that you think will make it harder for you this festive season.

You may even decide to avoid Christmas altogether and have a change of scenery if the reminders are too fresh and painful. If that’s what you decide, let loved ones know ahead of time so that they’re not surprised by your plans and can support you.

If you do decide to celebrate Christmas in your usual way, prepare for it to be a bit of an emotional rollercoaster. If it all gets too much, take a moment alone away from other family and friends for some quiet reflection and remember that it’s okay not to be okay. If you’re struggling this Christmas and don’t feel you can turn to friends or family, there are bereavement charities who can help, such as Cruse, Samaritans and The Good Grief Trust.