There is no right or wrong way to cope with Christmas, especially if this is the first Christmas without your beloved wife, husband, mother, father, child. We have compiled a list of ideas, gleaned from many sources. Hints that other grieving people have found helped them through Christmas. If there is a suggestion that you feel is right for you and your family hold on to it and let the others go, maybe next year you might feel like trying some other ideas.
- Know that as a grieving person, you have physical and emotional limitations. Evaluate priorities and decide what you want to do and what you are capable of doing.
- You and your family come first, what is most comfortable for all of you is what should be done. Let these needs be known to family, friends and relatives.
- Discuss with your family how they feel and what they would like to do. Let them decorate the tree, make the cake, wrap the presents etc.
Ways to Include Your loved one’s Life and Memories
- Take time, maybe before dinner, to ask everyone to have a moment of silence to think about your loved one. Ask them if they would like to share their thoughts.
- Invite everyone to write down a special thought about your loved one and place it in his/her Christmas stocking to be read by anyone at any time. This could be a special gift from you and your family to revive those special memories.
- Light a candle on Christmas day in memory of you’re the person who has passed.
- Buy a gift that the person would have enjoyed and donate it to a charity to brighten another person’s day or make a donation in your loved one’s name to his/her favourite charity.
- Buy an approved helium balloon and get the family to write messages to tie to it and together release it.
- Ask everyone to bring photographs of “Christmases Past”. Photos of the person or perhaps them and their parents and siblings. You might find that the sharing of these photos makes it easier and leads naturally into the sharing of memories of your loved one as well as other family members who are absent (parents, grandparents, brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts, etc.)
Changes You Could Make
- Have a different type of tree, a smaller one, a white one instead of the traditional green, or maybe no tree at all this year.
- Make a special ornament to add to the tree using craft materials or even a photo. This could be a good way to include younger family members.
- Don’t feel you should send out Christmas cards; I’m sure your friends will understand.
- Change the time of Christmas meal, maybe dinner instead of lunch.
- Attend a different Church or different service.
- Do something for someone else. Focus on others (elderly neighbour, someone with no relatives nearby) for part of the holidays will give you a respite from your pain.
Some Things Not To Do
- Don’t pretend you do not hurt.
- Don’t make changes in everything.
- Don’t forget that Christmas and holiday times often magnify feelings of loss of a loved one.
- Experiencing the sadness that comes is important and natural. To block out such feelings is unhealthy. Keep the positive memory of your loved one alive.
- Don’t give yourself the additional burden of worrying about crying. Your tears shouldn’t ruin the day for other family members but will provide them with the same freedom. Remember your crying can’t MAKE others cry, they cry because
they too are affected by the death of your loved one or their relative.
- You might not want to change anything; you may want to keep busy, not have time to think, hold back the pain. Don’t get so busy that you will not have time to think about your loved one, it will catch up with you and possibly hit you harder than if you had allowed yourself the freedom to hurt, to yearn, to wonder what might have been, to truly miss them and be allowed to say so.
Adapted from TFC article 2016