Coping at Christmas

For those dealing with the loss of a loved one, the holidays can be particularly challenging. Instead of joy, excitement and happiness, this time of year can bring with it incredible feelings of sorrow, pain, grief, and maybe even anger.

According to Psychology Today, it is common for grief to spike during the Christmas season. Many find that holiday traditions - such as cheerful Christmas music, jubilant holiday parties, and festive decor - enhance the pain they’re experiencing, and serve as unbearably painful reminders of their loss. 

For some of us, Christmas can arrive with a package full of grief triggers we don’t know how to cope with or manage.

In the below videos, we’ve put together 12 steps of Coping at Christmas to help you to get through the festive period while experiencing feelings of grief:

Step 1:    Accepting grief.

Accepting you aren't the same person. You can’t have the same expectations you have had in previous years but there are new things you can do, what really matters now that life has changed will guide you through the rest of this Christmas period and will make it easier.

Step 2:    Feel the feelings. 

As they say, “grief is love with nowhere to go.” Take time to feel the feelings. Cry for your loved one, say their name and talk about them with friends and family. Bring them to life as often as you like through memories and rituals. By doing these things the love inside you has somewhere to go.

Step 3:    Shifting expectations.

Change your expectations. The expectations we had of what Christmas in the past can change to match what life is like for us now. We wouldn’t expect a person who has gone through surgery to get up and cook a meal for everyone? Be kind and realistic about what you feel and what you can do now. 

Step 4:    Find new meaning.

The connotation of Christmas being a merry time may not be such a priority for you. New meanings you could explore may include love, kindness, safety and togetherness. Perhaps you could find inspiration from your loved one and what Christmas meant to them. These small steps can help you in making Christmas easier while grief is visiting.

Step 5:    Meaningful and easy gifts.

Shopping can be exhausting and overwhelming when we are grieving. We can feel like buying gifts is something we should do rather than want to do. It is helpful to find ways to get gifts that still come from the heart but are easy on the legs.

Step 6:    Rituals

There are many rituals that happen at Christmas time and this year you may need new ones as life has changed. Rituals can make the visible invisible and here are some ideas about what to do.

Step 7:    Prioritising tasks.

When we go through hard times and grief we can see life differently and realise what really matters most. It can be a time to prioritise our needs, wellbeing and feelings over the ‘shoulds' that we prioritised before.

Step 8:    Delegating Tasks.

People love to help but may not know what to do. Nothing is too silly or embarrassing. On Gather My Crew, changing someone’s bed linen is the number one request.

Step 9:   Do things differently.

Christmas is not the same and showing that on the outside as well as feeling it on the inside can sometimes help. For some this will mean doing everything differently, and for some it will mean introducing smaller changes. This time of year is about making sure everybody’s needs are met.

Step 10:    Remembering your loved one.

You will remember them at Christmas even more than other days, but sometimes we can be hesitant to express this memory to the people around us. In this video we share some tips about how to do this.

Step 11:    What to say.

People often don’t know what to say, so in this video we share some helpful tips. Remember it is always ok to say sorry as a support person if you get it wrong, or as someone who is grieving, to tell someone what you need them to say or not say.

Step 12:    What to do.

Some people don’t know what they need when the fog of grief renders them exhausted and overwhelmed. In this video we share some ideas of how to reach out and how you can give a helping hand

If you are having trouble coping in the lead up to Christmas, you can find some suggestions on making life easier this Christmas here.

Each year, Tobin Brothers Funerals hosts a series of Christmas Remembrance Services in an effort to offer comfort to people who are bereaved and seeking a place and time for reflection and solace. You can find the list of services here.

Tobin Brothers hope that Christmas can be the best it possibly can be in your circumstances, for you and for your family.