Coping With Grief During The Christmas Season

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Typically the Christmas season brings a sense of anticipation of joy, family and friends gathering to celebrate, an overabundance of food, laughter, food comas and when you’re grieving, reflection.

The first Christmas after mum passed away was tough. All the traditions we usually kept no longer felt filled with any life. However, we had young kids that still needed some fun and laughter despite my heart being positioned southwards. What to do? We made a conscious decision to minimise the joy and change the traditions. Breakfast with just immediate family, lunch by the bay with the greater circle of immediate family, and a dinner of leftovers was sufficient for all.

Honouring that none of the adults felt much like celebrating was important. This conclusion was only achieved through all the adults openly communicating their perspectives. Personally, the previous Christmas I’d been feeding mum icecream as she was already very ill. I needed this Christmas to be a time of reflection. Blending the joviality and reflection meant that at times I jumped out of reflection and enjoyed the kids too, thereby creating new memories in new environments.

Having lunch by the bay got all of us out of the house, where we’d spent the previous Christmas. You may like to think about the impact the space around you will have and how you can modify it to suit you and the needs of your family. Don’t be afraid to speak up and offer different solutions. Write down the suggestions and give people time to adjust. Be willing to compromise as not everyone can handle change and will prefer to keep traditions. If traditions are preferred then examine how you can balance your time with the traditional and create new traditions you'll be comfortable participating in.

The most valuable time for me that first Christmas was when I spent time alone. I left early in the morning and sat down at the bay, journal in hand. Writing a letter to my mum, about the year that had passed, plus downloading my miasma of emotions helped me clear a space for the rest of the day. What could you do to give you breathing space for the remainder of the day? Plan in advance, and discuss your plans only with those who need to know.

Above and beyond everyone and everything else, throw guilt to the curb. You’ve been given the gift of life this year, and that’s what Christmas is about. Celebrating the gift of life. Give yourself permission to enjoy your gift, to celebrate the gift of life your loved one shared with you and the memories you shared together. This can make this time of year very jolly indeed. 

Wishing you and yours a Christmas of shared Joy.

Written by Linda Turner