Dealing with loss at Christmas

Christmas can be a wonderful time of year full of festive joy, but for some it can be tough and lonely. For me, Christmas has always been my favourite time of the year, but it hasn't been the same since I lost my Grandpa on January 1st a few years ago.

Over the years, I’ve learnt my own ways to deal with this grief and heartache, but it’s never been easy. I can still be sitting in a room with my family trying to be happy and festive but sometimes I’m just in pieces inside. That’s why I want to share some tips that might be helpful for getting through the holidays after losing someone.

  • Remember everyone grieves differently. How you feel about the holidays will also be just as different. The holidays may be difficult for you; they may not be. Sometimes the hardest days are the most ordinary.
  • Do something specific for your loved one. Whether it’s lighting a candle, visiting a special place, or even making a donation in their name - doing something specific can help lift your mood and make you feel closer to them. Multiple times a year my family walk across the Forth Road Bridge to where the Love Locks hang and leave a rose for my Grandpa. In my house also, at Christmas we also hang a special ornament in the centre of the tree.
  • Open up about your loved one by sharing stories and memories about them. You might laugh, or you might cry, but remembering the good times and the memories honours them. If like me and you don't always feel comfortable talking to others about the memories all the time, try writing them down.
  • Keep in mind that the holidays will become easier. Hang on and you will get there. The first Christmas in particular was difficult for me, but over the last couple of years they have become a little easier. I can still walk into a room and expect to see him sitting there and I still experience some sad and nostalgia moments, but I don't necessarily find that bad; I’ve learnt it’s part of life after losing someone so close.
  • It’s okay to need help. Whether it’s just with daily errands, help around the house or a pair of ears to listen. Whatever it might be, it’s more than okay to ask for help. I began counselling in my early teens and though I hadn't experienced loss then, many of the things I learnt during that time have stuck and helped me through difficult times now. I learnt better ways of venting my emotion which have really been helpful as I have struggled to comprehend my feeling or just what to do with myself at times.
  • And lastly, “surround yourself with only people who are going to lift you higher” - Oprah

If you're struggling with loss this year and needing some help in understanding, communicating and dealing with what you are finding challenging, here at Bright Light we offer a range of different counselling and family therapy and we will support in achieving a better future.