Dealing With Bereavement At Christmas Time


Dealing with bereavement can be particularly difficult during the festive season.

Lianna Champ, author of “How to Grieve Like A Champ, has more than 40 years’ experience in grief counselling and funeral careHere, she gives us her tips.

“Christmas can feel like the worse time in the world when you are suffering the loss of a loved one,” Lianna said.

“You can be surrounded by family and friends and still feel like the loneliest person in the world.

“The build up to Christmas can be intense. Wherever we turn there are reminders that this is a time for celebration and of families coming together.

“When we suffer a bereavement, the emotional trauma can be overwhelming. Even though the world carries on as normal, it is no longer ‘normal’ for us.

“We don’t need protection from grief, but rather time and the means to express it, to experience it, and to live through it.

“We must find ways to nurture ourselves through our losses, and to find ways to go on living. It’s not that we miss our loved ones more at Christmas time, it’s just there are so many reminders.

“We change through each loss we encounter, and it is a unique experience for each one of us.

“We need to feel the pain in order to move forward and grow.”

Lianna Champ. Picture courtesy of Phil Garlington.

How can we navigate Christmas with a broken heart, and find some joy in the season?

1. Finding opportunities to talk about your loved one can help to relieve some of the pain and reduce your feelings of isolation. You need to talk about them because it makes their life important.

2. Perhaps try incorporating some new traditions. By doing things differently, we make ourselves feel differently, and therefore we won’t have the same memory joggers. Old rituals and routines can be hard to let go of, and maybe we can feel that this will take us further away from our loved one. But it is important that we find ways to move forward and yet still keep them close.

3. Always do something to remember the person you have lost, so you can give their spirit energy and feel a connection. There is no right or wrong way to navigate the hurdles that Christmas brings. We must find what works for us.

Here are some ideas for you to think about:

1. Lighting a memory candle or preparing their favourite meal, sharing your happiest memories of your loved one.

2. Use the Christmas tree to hang a special memento, photo or message.

3. Buy yourself a gift from your loved one to you.

4. Go for a walk on Christmas morning. Working through grief isn’t just an emotional exercise but a physical one, too.

5. Push the boundaries and do Christmas completely differently. Go away, help feed the homeless — just do something different.

The “Friend” health pages are home to plenty of expert advice and tips for looking after yourself. Click here to read more.

Yvonne McKenzie

Yvonne works on the Features team and admits to being nosy, so loves looking after the Between Friends letters and finding out all about our lovely readers. She also looks after our health copy and enjoys writing about inspiring people that help make the articles in the magazine so interesting.