Coping with Grief at Christmas.

Christmas is an amazing time, but it can also be a really difficult one particularly if you've lost someone.

People talk about the "firsts" of things being the worst, the first birthday, anniversary, Christmas without your loved one, but I think that any sort of anniversary or special occasion can always be difficult, no matter how long it's been since someone died.

Christmas is one such occasion and speaking from personal experience, I always have a bit of a festive wobble. Christmas was (is) a big deal for our family, think the Griswalds only with a bigger tree and you're in the ballpark, so after the death of both our parents, my sister and I decided that we would deal with Christmas how we saw fit.

We had endless discussions about whether we should put our decorations up, whether we should go away or whether we should ignore the fact it was Christmas completely.

We decided to just go with the flow and do whatever we felt was right, so we did put up our decorations, including some of the family ones we'd had for years, we decided to still do some of the things we'd always done, but introduce some new traditions and despite many offers, we decided to stay home.

I won't lie, during that first Christmas, there were a few tears, but we also laughed too, a slight error meant that we didn't manage to recreate the beautiful Christmas table that Mum would do, instead we ended up with a unicorn tablecloth and Halloween crackers, because I couldn't find the Christmas ones (they turned up at Easter!)

But my point is this, don't ignore the fact that Christmas will be tough and you might not feel like celebrating and that's absolutely fine. You might not feel like celebrating for years and that's also fine, you should do whatever you need to do.

There are many different things you can do, or incorporate into the day. It might be you want to visit your loved ones grave, or pay tribute to them by doing something they particularly enjoyed or just simply share many stories about them, then do that, you need to do what feels right.

There's no right or wrong, but here's some of my tips to dealing with grief over Christmas.

  1. Factor in some "me time"

  • Whether it's taking the dog out, having a long hot bath, reading a book, make sure you have a bit of time, where you can just be you and look after yourself.

2. Don't feel guilty.

  • If you want to spend Christmas Day sat in your PJ's eating chocolate and watching your favourite boxsets then do it, if you think going into work is the right thing to do, then do that.

  • Don't force yourself into doing anything you don't want to.

3. Don't feel pressurised.

  • If you want to spend the day at home with your family then do it, it might be you find that lots of people invite you over, they're doing it out of love and kindness, but if you don't fancy being around lots of people politely decline.

  • You don't have to do anything you don't want to.

4. Keep talking.

  • People mourn in different ways, so try and be respectful of others wants and wishes and talk openly about what is best and what you want and try and be sensitive to those wishes.

5. Try a digital detox.

  • Technology is a wonderful thing, but sometimes it can be a bit overwhelming, whether it's a stream of messages from friends who are checking on you (which is lovely) to seeing pictures on Social Media of people with their families can sometimes get overwhelming.

  • Switch your phone off and to stop family and friends worrying tell them that's what you're doing, or arrange a time to chat to them on the day.

If you're really struggling then please talk to a professional, there are a number of places that offer support and advice, your local GP, The Good Grief Trust, Cruse Bereavement Care, or Child Bereavement UK.