20th December 2021
Christmas is usually a time for relaxation and family. It gives people the chance to take a break from worrying about their busy, stressful lives - to reconnect with family and recharge ahead of the new year. However, as an experienced bereavement counsellor in Harrogate and online, I know that Christmas can be an extremely difficult period for some individuals. And so, as we head into the festive period, here are a few things to keep in mind.
Christmas Can Remind People of Lost Loved Ones
Given that Christmas is a time for family, this period can be extremely difficult for people who have recently seen a loved one pass away. It will potentially remind them of past years when they enjoyed Christmas together. And with the person who has died suddenly not being there, it can open up wounds for the bereaved individual.
This is especially the case around Christmas; emphasis is strongly on family and one’s normal schedule - work, hobbies, seeing bereavement counsellors, etc. - becomes disrupted, leaving people with no choice but to focus on what they’ve lost. In this sense, it can be a time when grief resurfaces.
Some People Might Want to Be Alone
For people who are mourning the death of a loved one, the idea of doing Christmas in the same way as before might be extremely daunting. This period is a time of traditions, which, in the case of grief, can often bring painful memories to the surface. It could be that the best thing for that person is to be completely alone. They may need some private space to do whatever feels right for them.
If you are suffering from the death of a loved one, or know someone who is, it is therefore important to remember that people shouldn’t be pressured into doing certain traditions if they don’t want to. For instance, someone may prefer to have a non-traditional meal, or avoid having a Christmas tree. Feeling this way is perfectly valid for someone experiencing grief.
Don’t Bottle Up Your Emotions
During the festive season, there is a great pressure to be “on form” - to be happy and conversational - and this can be extremely tiring, especially if you are feeling the opposite. Many people who are grieving will simply “put on a brave face” for the rest of the family, but this is extremely harmful. Bottling up your emotions is the worst thing one can possibly do. If you need to cry, or talk about the person who has died at length, you should not hold yourself back at all. Christmas can make people feel like they should switch off and forget about certain aspects of life, but it may be that talking about it - being truly emotional and vulnerable - feels like the most important, natural thing to do.
I understand that Christmas can be a hard time for people who are grieving - no matter how long it has been since that person has died. If you want a safe, confidential, peaceful place to talk through your emotions in your own time, I offer bereavement counselling in Harrogate and online. Don’t hesitate to get in touch if you have any questions.