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Coping with grief at Christmas

Big festivals without loved ones can be really painful…

Especially at first. I’m hoping the following tips might help you deal with Christmas when someone’s missing.

  1. Manage your expectations. Don’t expect Christmas to be the same; it will be different.
  2. Change things up. Get away from the typical surroundings at Christmas. Spend it elsewhere or travel perhaps.
  3. Re-arrange the furniture to reduce stark reminders of a person’s absence.
  4. If you’re on your own and want to be around people, don’t wait to be invited somewhere. Good friends won’t mind you asking if it’s ok to pop in for a little while on Christmas day.
  5. Avoid too much sugar or over-eating. The sugar lows will intensify your already difficult emotions.
  6. Remember that alcohol gives the impression of helping in the short-term but makes the emotions worse in the long run.
  7. Acknowledge you’re grieving. You don’t need to keep it together just because it’s Christmas. Give yourself permission to cry and to miss the person.
  8. If you like children, and you have children in your life, surround yourself with them. Focusing on the magic of Christmas for the little ones can be a welcome distraction.
  9. Talk about the person; it keeps them present on Christmas day. Visit the grave or remember them in some way. Christmas doesn’t have to mean you can’t include the person in your thoughts or new rituals.
  10. At the end of the day, look back and be proud of yourself for getting through it. The first Christmas without the person is the worst. Know that it will get easier from here.

Dr. Marie Thompson, Clinical Psychologist



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