Christmas can feel like an impossible hurdle when you are suffering the loss of a loved one and their absence can leave a gaping hole which can feel even more pronounced at this time of year.

How to Grieve Like A Champ

How to Grieve Like A Champ

There are so many reminders that Christmas is traditionally a time for celebration and of families coming together. If you are grieving the loss of a loved one, there is no escaping all those reminders and you may come to dread Christmas. The build-up can be intensely painful because it lasts so long. It isn’t that we feel the loss of our loved one more at this time, it’s just that it feels worse because there are reminders of past Christmases wherever we look. For us, everything has changed yet the world just carries on as normal. For us there is no ‘normal’ now, our lives have changed irrevocably.

So, we must make changes. We have to force ourselves to think about things that might help us to cope even though the pain may feel more than we can bear. We have a duty to those we love to carry on. Rather than doing the same things we did with our lost loved one, which can make us feel even lonelier, we should try to incorporate new traditions. By doing things differently, we’re making ourselves feel differently and therefore we won’t have the same memory joggers. Old rituals can be hard to let go of and sometimes we can feel that this will take us further away from our loved one. But like the seasons change, so must we.      

Always do something to remember the person you have lost so you can give their spirit energy and feel a closeness. Whether by lighting a candle or cooking their favourite dish, it is good to remember. But we have to choose to reset the ‘Christmas spirit button’. There is no right or wrong way to navigate the hurdles that Christmas brings. We must find what works for us, sometimes even just forcing ourselves to function.

Here are some ideas for you to think about:

Use the Christmas tree to hang a special memento, photos and messages.

Pour a glass of their tipple and take turns to share your favourite memories.

Be with the people you love, even if you want to hide under the covers.

Make it ok not to be ok and if you feel yourself folding, let it be ok to have some time on your own.

Buy yourself a special gift from your loved one to cherish.

Be wary of short-term relievers such as alcohol and junk food.

Don’t berate yourself when you have your happy moments - this is healthy and normal.

As we approach the end of any year, we turn our thoughts to changes we would like to make. Make a resolution to tend to yourself emotionally. Sharing your feelings with someone you trust and feel safe with is a powerful release and can unravel much emotional confusion. Make it your resolution to share, as this helps us to stop isolating ourselves with our pain and acknowledges a part of life we all have to go thorough.

Lianna Champ has over 40 years’ experience in grief counselling and funeral care and is author of practical guide, How to Grieve Like A Champ