Dealing with Grief at Christmas

Christmas time can be that little bit harder when you’ve lost a loved one.

Family traditions aren’t quite the same when someone you love is missing, and it’s very normal for you to feel down and isolated, especially at this time of year.

To help with handling grief this Christmas, we’ve put together some guidance below. It’s important to remember there is no right or wrong way to grieve – and different things will be helpful to different people.

Talk to others and plan ahead

Let go of expectations of what Christmas ‘should’ or ‘could’ look like – there’s no right way to do Christmas once a loved one has passed. You can decide how involved you are and which activities you take part in, depending on how much you can handle.

Your grief is unique to you, so try and talk to your friends and family and let them know what your plans are and what support you might need. If you’re sharing your grief with others, you can talk about your feelings and thoughts about Christmas and decide together what you’ll do.

Take care of yourself

Grief manifests itself in lots of physical ways, and it’s important to be patient with yourself. If you need to take breaks, do less activities, step outside for a minute or go home early, it’s completely understandable.

It’s also important to still allow yourself happiness and the chance to enjoy the festive season – it’s OK to feel joy again when you’re ready. Try to focus on what you have in the here and now, while giving yourself the space to remember and reminisce about the past.

Getting outside is key to keeping good mental health. Make sure, if you can, to take walks, see friends and family and exercise as much as you can. Grief support groups like Mortons Monday Club can also be a good space to connect with people who understand what you’re going through.

Remembering your loved one

There are lots of practical ways you can honour your loved one this Christmas, either alone or with family and friends.

You may choose to mark their memory by doing something special, such as lighting a candle, making a decoration or donating to their favourite charity. Even simply listening to their favourite Christmas songs or playing their favourite Christmas games can be a great way to remember them.

Christmas and grief can be a difficult and painful combination for many and if you need it, you can find our list of organisations for further support on our website.

Remembering your loved one at Christmas – Mortons Tree of Light

Mortons Tree of Light Memorial Service is an annual event taking place on the first Sunday in December. This service invites everyone in the community to remember those we have lost.

Anyone can submit a message for a loved one at no cost, which will be handwritten onto a memorial star and placed on our Tree of Light. The service will be recorded and available to watch online from the 3rd December.

Click here to write a memorial star for you loved one to be placed on our Tree of Light.

Making Christmas Special for Bereaved Families

We understand that Christmas can be a difficult time of year, when we often feel the loss of a loved one even more. Doing something special as a mark of remembrance can help families to cope and reflect. Here are some of our ideas:

Tree of Light Activity Sheet
  1. Choose a special decoration to place on the Christmas tree
  2. Light a memorial candle
  3. Write a memorial star for our Tree of Light
  4. Share memories over a Christmas meal
  5. Have a toast in their honour
  6. Watch their favourite Christmas film or listen to their favourite song
  7. Hang a stocking in memory and write a note or letter to put inside

As part of our Tree of Light event this year, we have created a children’s activity sheet that can be shared with the family. Completing the activities with children may help to introduce the Tree of Light and allow families to talk about its meaning and importance.

Download the Tree of Light Activity Sheet

If you’re finding Christmas time emotionally challenging, know you are not alone. There is much support available and you can find more information on our website.

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