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Coping with Grief at Christmas

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Published 07/07/2020
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Christmas can be a difficult time of year when you have lost a loved one, whether you have lost someone recently or years ago. Christmas is traditionally spent with our loved ones, so when we lose one it can leave a gaping hole in the festivities, not to mention constant memories and reminders.

Here are a few ways to cope with your grief at Christmas:
  • Allow yourself to feel. It’s alright to feel sad at Christmas if you’re missing someone. Instead of trying to ignore your feelings of sadness, embrace them. Talk about your loved one, cry if you need to. Remember the good times you had with them.
  • Create a new tradition. Instead of trying to ignore the gap the loss of your loved one has left, why not try to include them in your celebrations? Visit your loved one’s grave or a place that was dear to them, write them a christmas card, light a candle or maybe buy a decoration in memory of them.
  • Try to keep a routine. Christmas is already a disruptive time, so try to keep your routine as much as possible. Walk the dog, do some housework - this will give you a sense of normality.
  • Share your grief with friends and relatives by sharing stories and memories of your loved one with others who miss them. Remembering happy times will help to ease your grief.
  • Make sure to look after yourself. Eat well, drink plenty of water, and get plenty of sleep. This can do wonders for your wellbeing.
If you feel like you cannot face a traditional Christmas, why not try to do something completely different? You could travel somewhere and spend Christmas in a new place, or maybe spend Christmas Day volunteering for a local charity.
When to seek professional help
Seek professional help if any of the following applies to you:
  • You do not feel able to cope with your feelings or daily life, and feel overwhelmed by simple tasks
  • You do not start to feel better after time, or if you start to feel worse
  • You're not sleeping
  • You have symptoms of depression or anxiety
  • Your relationships are suffering
  • You feel you may be a danger to yourself or others around you
You can go to your GP, or call NHS 111 to speak to a medical professional.

There are also several charities you can contact, the Good Grief Trust has a list of phone numbers and charities at the bottom of their home page at https://www.thegoodgrieftrust.org/
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