Tips for coping with the Christmas season following personal loss

As another Christmas season approaches, everywhere you look there are bright lights and sparkles.  You are encouraged to have ‘The Best Christmas Yet!’  but if you’ve had a significant personal loss either recently or in the past you may be feeling a sense of dread or that you want to avoid the festive season altogether. 

The Christmas season is full of experiences, sounds and smells that might trigger special memories for you.  Memories which, for some, just emphasise how much they are missing someone.   This time of year, can really highlight how isolated and alone you feel.

If this is your first Christmas after a loss, its normal to worry about how you are going to feel or react.  For some even though the loss was some years ago they may be worrying about how they are going to cope again this year. 

Sometimes all the worry can build Christmas up into a huge and overwhelming event.  So, here are some tips to try and break it down into something more manageable.

Have a plan – give some thought to what would feel more manageable for you this Christmas.  Be kind to yourself and rather than trying to fit in with everyone else, be honest about how you are feeling and what you feel you could cope with.  Politely say no to invitations that you know would be too difficult.  If you do accept invitations have a plan for what you would do if things get too much.  Would it be easy to get home or is there a quiet space you could go to?  If you’ve thought of all eventualities before you go, it will be easier to take action if you need to.

Let people help – say yes when people offer you practical help.  Trying to do everything on your own can be emotionally and physically exhausting at a time when you already feel depleted.  Giving people a job to do for you creates a win-win situation.  Friends or relatives who haven’t known how to help you will feel as though they are doing something useful.

Traditions old and new – keep the old traditions that you love.  Well-meaning relatives and friends may try to break with old traditions as a way of supporting you.  Be honest about how you feel with them and keep the traditions that are precious to you.  You might also want to start a new tradition that is meaningful to you and honours your memories.

Be with those who support you – try not to spend too much time alone.  It’s all too easy to become isolated and lonely.  Seek out the company of the friends and relatives you know will support you.  Allow yourself to talk to them honestly about how you are feeling.  Share a story about the person you have lost, you will most likely find that others will join in with stories of their own.

If you’re having a guest over Christmas that is coping with a loss you may be worried about how to be with them.  Simply give them the opportunity to talk about their loved one or what they have lost.  Most people given the opportunity will want to talk but don’t be offended if they’d prefer not to.

If you have found this blog of interest and would like to know more about the Grief Coaching that I offer, just get in touch with me and we can have a chat.

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