Christmas is often a wonderful time, anticipated with excitement and hope. However, for the bereaved, it can be incredibly difficult and isolating. I view Christmas as a giant magnifying glass; if you’re happy, with family, friends and loved-ones, these blessings are highlighted. If you are missing someone, this is also emphasised at this time of year.
Remember it’s Temporary
If you are newly bereaved, it’s important to remember that this is a temporary set-back. While it may feel as though you are back to square one, remember that Christmas sharpens the pain. Please don’t despair, it’s common to find this a trying phase. When it’s over, you will be better able to carry it all again, once more.
There are things you can put into place to help you navigate this time. Any distressing triggers that are known to you could, to a certain degree, be managed. For instance, if there are specific traditions that will be painful, think of ways to change, adapt, or add to them. If you’d like to carry on with your usual decorations and rituals, then do so. If you’d prefer to avoid it all as much as possible, then that’s fine, too. People will equally understand if you don’t send cards or exchange gifts, or if you’re out socialising at every opportunity. Whatever feels right for you.
With your loved-one in mind, are there things that will help you honour them at this time of year? It could be buying a special ornament, laying a place for them at the table, or visiting somewhere to lay a flower or pebble. You may wish to say a prayer for them, or give to a relevant charity in their name. You could even buy a present for them and then give it to someone or somewhere that would really benefit. You could display a photo, or buy their favourite flowers for your home. The simple act of lighting a candle can also bring a little comfort.
If you know someone who is hurting, ask them what you can do to support them at Christmas. Mention their loved-one, and invite them to share memories and stories of that person with you. You could raise a toast to that person, or incorporate a new tradition, as mentioned. Check on the bereaved person throughout the holidays, even if sometimes it’s just a text message. Let them know that they are not alone, and that you are there to listen, or to distract; whatever they need. Include the bereaved, and include their absent loved-one.
The simple act of acknowledging that someone is missing, is always appreciated by the grieving. This could be a recent grief, or an old one. There may be relatives or neighbours that are lonely, and although many years have passed, are still feeling wistful at this point of the year. Christmas is a time of goodwill and charity, so be patient and kind, not only to others, but also to yourself.
Wishing you all a gentle, peaceful Christmas, and a brighter year ahead.
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