Christmas is known as a time for joy and bringing together families and friends. However, it can be a tough reminder of the absence of a loved one for many of us. 

I associate Christmas time with travelling to see my grandparents when I was young. They always had the best festive snacks and huge gift bags full of goodies. I was very lucky! Now that they are gone, it is difficult not to get upset during the festive period.  
 
You fear that your sadness will spread, and Christmas will be ruined; there is so much pressure for it to be a perfect day that often, you will keep your grief to yourself. 
 
However, these thoughts go against the sentiment of Christmas all together. You shouldn’t have to keep your feelings inside. It is important to remember: 

  • You are not on your own. Many people deal with grief and find themselves getting upset over all kinds of things. It is perfectly normal. 
  • You can take as much time as you need. Feel free to recharge your batteries by relaxing and taking time away from social situations.  
  • Taking a timeout can be beneficial but remember not to turn everything down! Getting stuck in with a board game, some Christmas telly or crafts can help ease your mind. 
  • If there are particularly triggering events and social settings over Christmas, try changing up your usual routine. 

It might feel like you want to forget about your loved one because it is painful to think about them. Even so, it can be comforting to speak about them and share memories. This can help to normalise your feelings and make you feel less alone. It could even help other people around you to share their feelings as well. There are many things you can do to remember your loved one around Christmas time: 

  • Create a new tradition by doing something special, like lighting a candle, making a wreath or putting a Christmas plant in a specially decorated pot. 
  • Make a memory jar by asking people for their favourite or funniest memories of your loved one. Write the memories on little pieces of paper so that you can read them out later, or people can view them independently. 
  • Remember them by eating their favourite meal or having a toast with their preferred drink 
  • Decorate the tree with something treasured by your loved one or a memorial decoration 
  • Take a Christmas card or small gift to their place of rest 
  • Listen to their favourite music, or their favourite Christmas song or carol. 
  • On Christmas Day itself, take care of yourself. Maybe go for a walk or step outside if you feel overwhelmed. Remember that it is ok not be ok but you also deserve to have fun and smile. 

Even though I won’t be able to spend Christmas with my grandparents again, I am lucky to have nice memories of them. Everything doesn’t always have to be the same and you can have fun making lots of new memories with friends or family. Be yourself and allow yourself to feel; it might help more than you think! 
 
If you struggle with feelings of loneliness over the winter period, you can contact us on 0115 648 5181, or email us at hello@thewolfpackproject.org.uk. You are not alone.

– By Chloe from The Wolfpack Project