Christmas can be a trying time for families, as grief can become especially pronounced and painful over the festive period. For many families each year, it is the first Christmas they spend without a loved one. For others, the memories of people who no longer share in the unwrapping of presents and sit at the Christmas table remains difficult to bear.
There is no rule book on how to navigate Christmas when loss and sorrow overshadow events that somehow oblige us to feel cheerful during Christmas.
However, there are many ways to alleviate grief around the loss of a loved one during those moments.
In this article Rest Assured Funeral Plans looks at how to deal with the death of a loved one and how to cope with grief at Christmas, so a greater sense of peace and joy can be allowed into proceedings.
Pay your respects before the festivities begin
As Christmas looms and thoughts of forced festivities evoke feelings of sadness and anxiety, it can help to gather family members beside a grave, in memorial garden or at a location where ashes were scattered.
The act of coming together, just before Christmas gets underway, to remember a lost loved one acts as a mark of respect that all are present to witness.
In doing so you can better process grief at this time of year, put the poignancy of your loss behind you and cleanse your heart so Christmas can be enjoyed without any excessive sense of heartache, and feelings of celebrations being out of place.
Represent a lost loved one in a material way
The loss of a loved one at Christmas can be felt in many ways. There can be one less person to help with the decoration of a tree, one less person to take part in the exchange of presents and one less person at the dinner table.
However, that person need not be completely absent from your events over Christmas if a visible and tangible token of their existence is included in your Yuletide arrangements.
Hanging a personalised bauble or similar decoration on a Christmas tree, making a memorial wreath, or lighting a large candle to burn from Christmas Eve into the New Year are just three material ways to include a lost loved one in Christmas plans.
Engage in an activity that your loved one enjoyed at Christmas
Commemorating a loved one at Christmas can be done in an uplifting way by undertaking activities that bring you back into touch with the life they lived, and the way they celebrated Christmas.
Participating in things they enjoyed doing at this time of year is a good way to process and ease grief.
Watching their favourite Christmas movie, listening to their favourite carol, having a glass of their favourite tipple, and arranging to walk a route they once walked at Christmas are just a few ways to be back into touch with them during the festivities.
Perhaps the most important thing to do when feeling the loss of a loved one at Christmas is to be patient with yourself.
Forcing frivolity can lead to a sense of guilt and greater grief. It is important to do what you choose during what can be an extremely trying time of year.
It is important to remember that Christmas is only a brief moment of every year, and can be as short as you wish it to be.
If feelings of grief become too overwhelming at Christmas then you should not be afraid to ask for help – from friends, family or professionals.
Sharing any feelings of guilt or grief over Christmas can help, as they are sure to be understood and dismissed by those who love you in the same you loved the one you’ve lost.
The Samaritans are an organisation that offers comfort and a listening ear to many people who feel lonely or a sense of loss at Christmas. They can be contacted from any phone, for free, by dialling 116 123.
Other services include Cruse Bereavement Care, a national charity that provides bereavement support, grief counselling and other help and resources for anyone in the UK who has lost a loved one. It may be contacted on 0808 808 1677.
Winston’s Wish helps children and families following the death of a parent, sibling or carer, especially those who have lost someone because of serious illness, suicide or on military service. It may be contacted on 0808 802 0021.
Grief Encounter provides support to children and young following the death of someone close. They also host a free phone line called Grieftalk, which is open from 9am to 9pm, Monday to Friday, on 0808 802 0111.
Rest Assured Funeral Plans remains open to the families of its clients who may unfortunately pass away during the Christmas period.
However, all of at Rest Assured wish all of our clients, friends and staff a safe and happy Christmas.
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to one and all.
Rest Assured is an authority on all end-of-life matters including funeral plans, wills and property trusts.
For more information about funeral plans and how we ensure every customer is happy with the funeral plan they buy, please contact Rest Assured Plans on 0800 065 4514