Remembering someone at Christmas

What may be happening

There are some times in the year, such as Christmas, birthdays, or life celebrations, where others may expect you to be happy, sociable, and want to celebrate with them. Yet when a loved one has died, you may feel that joining in is impossible, it may fill you with dread, or you may not want to join in at all. People may also become busier around a celebration, which may leave you feeling isolated. These feelings are completely normal, and you are not alone.

You may have suffered a close bereavement and it’s your first Christmas, or maybe many years have passed – but Christmas can still be one of the hardest times of the year. You may remember the happiness of Christmases past, and wonder how you’ll get through this season when the rest of the world seems to be in a different world altogether. You may feel like hiding away until it is over; it’s important to remember that you may find the anticipation of Christmas is worse than the day itself.

Below, we have put together some suggestions for ‘getting through’. They are not rules, and  you may wish to read them and choose one or two that you feel would help you. If you feel at any point that you would like to talk to someone immediately please call the Samaritans on 116 123. If you feel you are in immediate danger, please call 999.

What you may find helpful

  • Don’t be pressured into feeling you have to do anything – remember you only have to do as much as you want to do. You are in control, and it’s OK to say no to responsibility.
  • Accept any offers of help from friends and well-wishes, if you think it may support you. You are not a failure for accepting help, you are accepting support which can be a sign of strength.
  • If you have a trusted friend to talk to, arrange to have them call you at a certain time to talk (or not talk) about how you are feeling. Have their number in case you feel you’d like to call them throughout the day.
  • Consider finding a way of remembering your loved one. For example, you could light a memorial candle for them at the dinner table, or put their favourite decorations on the tree.
  • If you can’t face Christmas dinner at home, you may wish to consider doing something completely different on Christmas Day.
  • Take time to share special memories or stories of your loved one with family or friends who care. Focus on happy memories.
  • Be gentle on yourself – give yourself the time and space to grieve.

Organisations who are open on Christmas Day

The Samaritans Helpline are always open. Their number is 116 123.

The CALM helpline is open from 5pm – midnight. Their number is 0800 58 58 58

Bereavement UK have a forum and a chat room, where you can talk to people who may have similar experiences to you.