Grief Awareness Week 2023: 6+ tips on coping with grief and loss at Christmas
Christmas can be an exceptionally hard time of year when someone has passed away.
As Christmas is seen as a time for happiness and family, you may struggle with your loss more. In this blog, we explore a range of tips for Grief Awareness Week, for coping with grief and loss during the Christmas period.
The effects of grief
Grief affects us all and is a normal reaction to losing someone we care about. Grief is a complicated journey and everyone’s experience will be different. There may be some days where you feel fine and others where you feel low and sad.
‘Down’ days may be caused by a trigger- something that reminds you of the person. Christmas can be full of triggers and can therefore be an especially painful time for those experiencing loss.
Grief can cause sleep disturbances, overwhelming sadness, exhaustion and loneliness, as well as anxiety.
Can grief cause physical pain?
Yes, it can. As well as pains in the body, you may also experience nausea, headaches or panic attacks. You may also want to eat more or less than you normally would.
How can I deal with the grief?
It can help to try and think of Christmas as a time to remember the happy times you spent with those who are absent. Here are some suggestions for honouring your loved ones and taking care of yourself over the festive period.
How to cope with grief at Christmas:
1. Firstly, think about what you need. If you are worried about Christmas, give yourself the space and opportunity to make plans you are comfortable with.
2. You could reconsider your Christmas traditions. Perhaps it is time to begin a new one in their memory or focus more on an old tradition that makes your loved one feel closer.
3. Have something to remind you of your loved one. It could be a new tree decoration or a special object they loved. Having something physical that brings them into the festive celebrations can often help you to feel more connected.
4. Speak about how you are feeling to your family and friends, or professionals, this can help you feel more control over your emotions.
5. Take some time for yourself over the festive period. Emotions use a lot of our energy, whether that is joy or sadness. Giving yourself time to recharge your batteries is vital.
6. Children may find coping with feelings of loss and grief particularly difficult at Christmas. You could help your child to make a Christmas card for the person you have lost.
This could then be laminated and placed in a special location such as at the cemetery or a memorial tree- wherever you like to go to celebrate their life. It may also be worth explaining the bereavement to your child’s school or nursery, so that the appropriate support can be put in place.
7. And importantly, remember that it is okay to not be okay. Finding Christmas difficult after loss is not uncommon and you don’t need to feel guilty about the things you think you ‘should be doing’. Christmas doesn’t need to be ‘perfect’ to be special.