Is it the ‘most wonderful time of the year’ or the ‘most difficult’? Often, and for many reasons it can be a bit of both. As we approach Christmas, those who have lost loved ones and are experiencing waves of grief, can find this time especially challenging because in contemplating togetherness we naturally think of those no longer with us.
How to cope with grief at Christmas
Accept Your Feelings – it is ok to feel a range of emotions and not to be smiling when others are. You may even find yourself smiling on the outside but feeling sadness, anger or guilt on the inside. Allow yourself the opportunity to experience and express how you are really feeling. If this doesn’t feel like something you can do with trusted friends or family, consider speaking to a grief counsellor or joining a support group with others who are likely to be experiencing similar emotions. Talking about grief can feel very different and cathartic, when sharing with someone who can relate to what we are going through: check out the #NGAW23 #BetterTogether Cafes happening across the country.
Be Kind to Yourself – it can be a particularly busy time of the year. Give yourself permission to slow things down rather than speeding up. Grieving is a unique process that we all experience differently, there is no right or wrong. Focus on the absolute priorities, including your own self-care and let go of anything that would demand too much of you. Keep your own cup filled up so that any giving you do energetically comes from a place of plenty, in this way you can prevent burnout.
Pick and Choose – contemplate the events or gatherings you have ahead and notice how you feel about each of them. Grieving can be physically and emotionally draining. Decide which events you feel like you can cope with attending and communicate with others about the ones you may want to give a miss.
Raise a Glass to Your Loved One – create a new tradition that helps you to celebrate them through participating in something they would have enjoyed doing, playing their favourite song, lighting a candle or toasting to them. You may wish to incorporate a tribute as part of this, like reading a letter you have written to them, or looking through a photograph album capturing your favourite memories of times spent together.
For more information and support:
The Good Grief Trust: https://www.thegoodgrieftrust.org