By Your Call Publishing | ,

Health With Omega - December 23/January 24

Christmas After Bereavement

Christmas is a magical time of fairy lights glinting in the snow, holidays and family presents, some causing hilarity by missing the mark completely. Dressing the tree with baubles that cause exclamations of memory as they come out of the box. Remember when…? For some of us, the memories are bittersweet as we remember loved ones who no longer take up space round our table; who no longer sleep by the fire after lunch; or who no longer knit extraordinary jumpers we are all careful to describe as, “Great! Perfect for the New Year Party!” whilst stuffing them back in the bag never to be worn.

Bereavement is a normal part of life, but no less painful for that. It takes time to assimilate the loss and can cause loneliness if others feel awkward talking about the person who has passed. So how do we cope with Christmas after a death in the family?

We each cope differently. Some will turn to old Christmas traditions, others shy away from the pain of the usual and will find something new, like volunteering at a homeless shelter serving Christmas lunch. Others introduce new traditions, past loves are not forgotten, but new ways of living are found.

Don’t pretend, “I’m fine.” Speak your thoughts, remember the one you loved. Toast their memory and all they have meant to friends and family. You may shed a tear and need a tissue close by, but talking about him or her will take the tension out of the air for everyone and stop family treating you with kid gloves. Being real, even with sad moments, will improve the day.

Triggers to tears will happen, mascara may run, but this is true family living, sharing joys and sorrows alike. You may be fine almost all day then the film comes on the TV that you’ve watched together every year. Crying does not mean you are ‘going to pieces’ and you will be OK again afterwards. Both you and others will gain confidence knowing that surviving bereavement does not mean forgetting the person you love.

Bereaved friends can be comforted by a card or flowers with a simple ‘Thinking of you at Christmas’ or ‘Remembering your Dad at this time’ rather than wishing them merriment. If inviting them to join you this year, an open invitation to come for some, or all, of the day may give them courage to visit without worrying that they won’t manage for long. If they do accept the offer, access to a quiet space if they need it may be very welcome. If they decline, popping in with a cake or mince pie may ease their loneliness.

Most of all don’t pressurise someone into attending a social event. Even the invitation will mean a lot.

For more information call 07999 739381.

Dr Chantal Meystre