I’m dreading Christmas after losing someone – what can I do?
People recognize that your first Christmas after losing a loved one can be very hard for you. However sometimes they assume that with the passing of time things will naturally become easier and easier.
That isn’t always the case by any means, and continuing to find it hard doesn’t mean that you haven’t moved on. If you are dreading Christmas after losing someone then here are five practical things that you can do.
Talk to your family and friends. Don’t assume that they’ll bring up your loss – they may feel awkward or worried that they’ll upset you. And don’t assume that they are mind readers either – can’t expect other people to know how you’re feeling or what you’re thinking.
Be realistic, especially in the first and the early years. Whatever you’re feeling, don’t beat yourself up about it. If you don’t feel that you can talk to a friend as openly as you need to, then don’t forget the Samaritans; their free telephone number is 116 123.
Don’t forget the basics – sleep, diet, and activity. Remember that a healthy diet, enough sleep, and keeping physically active throughout the week are all essential for our mood. Don’t neglect them over Christmas, especially if you’re struggling emotionally.
Think about traditions at Christmas. What traditions did you have around Christmas? Which do you want to carry on, and which new ones would you like to start? And when you are thinking back to previous Christmases make sure that you share your memories, and talk about the person you’ve lost.
Make sure that there are things in the day that are just for you. Whether that’s going for a walk, having some space and quiet in the middle of a busy day, or watching something uninterrupted, make sure that you make time for it – and that other people respect it. And whatever you do don’t feel guilty – remember how they would want you to be as happy as possible.
I’m dreading spending Christmas with a friend or relative who’s lost someone – what can I do?
Take your lead from the other person. Remember that there isn’t a set timetable for grief, and it isn’t helpful to think in terms of people needing to have ‘moved on’ after a certain time.
Think about what is really useful for the other person. Avoiding the subject so as not to upset them; avoiding them altogether to ‘give them some space’; reminding them of how long they had together, or that they’re no longer in pain. All of these things are really ways to help us avoid or gloss over difficult subjects and emotions. They aren’t actually helpful to the other person.
Tell them that you care, don’t just show it. Sometimes we do things to demonstrate that we care instead of trying to put something difficult into words. But saying “I can’t find the words, but I want to tell you that I care and I’m here for you” is so much better than saying nothing at all.