How to cope with grief at Christmas time

December 19, 2016

mono-red-baubleWhile Christmas is supposed to be a joyous occasion, full of fun, food and family, it can also be hard for many people. Whether you were recently bereaved or are struggling with emotions brought up from bereavement a long time ago, Christmas can be a difficult period. Here we will look at some ways that you can try to manage your feelings during this time.

Understanding Christmas grief

If you have lost someone close to you this year and this is your first time without them then Christmas can be a very tough time. You may have lots of anxieties about how you are going to manage through the festive period, not only in terms of keeping a brave face but also with the practicalities of presents, food and other routines. Maybe you are worried about looking after the children by yourself, or are afraid that something like setting the dinner table for one less person may leave you upset and emotional.

It’s also not uncommon to not want to celebrate at all. Sometimes people find that the idea of spending Christmas without their loved one makes them feel guilty – as if it would be better to continue as normal than to celebrate without them.

Grief is not only restricted to people who have been recently bereaved either. For some people, times like birthdays, anniversaries and Christmas’s can drag up painful memories again and again. The question though is how can these emotions be managed and what can you do to stop yourself from being overcome by your emotions.

How to manage it

The first thing to remember is that Christmas is a time where everyone needs to pull together and having the whole weight of Christmas Day rest on your shoulders is a recipe for disaster. You may think that if you wrap presents, set the table, prepare and cook the food you’ll be able to keep busy and unemotional but it doesn’t usually work like that. The pressure may leave you stressed and angry and most likely unable to enjoy the day at all – so asking for help from friends and family is important.

If you are worried about becoming too upset on the day then you shouldn’t be. Christmas is such a family orientated time, often with happy memories associated that even something as simple as setting the table can leave you very upset. However, it’s important to know that this is natural and you are allowed to be upset.

Your feelings of grief can come out in surprising ways, and you might find that you don’t even feel like celebrating Christmas this year. While it’s fine to say no to too many activities when you are grieving, you may find that spending time with others and talking about happier memories will make you feel better. Also know that it’s fine to feel the way you feel and that there is no requirement for you to be full of Christmas cheer all day long.

As difficult as the holidays can be they are a time to be cherished and enjoyed and by giving yourself permission to feel the way you feel and by asking for help when you need it you may find it less painful.

If you are struggling with grief or would like to understand it better, please read or free guide to coping with the loss of a loved one.

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