The Season To Be Jolly ?

Christmas /The Season to be Jolly can be a very difficult time, especially some months after the death when friends and those not immediately close have begun to get on with life and may assume you and your family are doing the same.

There’s only one way – Your Own 

Some families try very hard to forge ahead and celebrate, have the same sort of time that they had previously, in some cases this can work but my experience of working with families has been that it is better to do whatever you feel you can do and not to try too hard to have a good time. There are many ways that events both private, such as birthdays and public holidays like Christmas and Easter can be managed. It is normal to fear a forthcoming event or anniversary, unexpected feelings can emerge it can feel like there is no escape.Music in shops…..cheery people who wish you a ‘Merry Christmas ‘ or Happy New Year. The feeling of isolation and disconnection with those who are planning excitedly. Memories evoked by music, carols, weather .Younger family members who may not understand the finality of death and there may be pressure on the bereft spouse to provide Christmas as it always was. There may be financial difficulties too, particularly if the deceased was working or the main income to the household. The pressure of managing grief through forthcoming Christmas even without any added financial concerns can feel just too huge.
Surviving Christmas with grief isn’t easy but you can help yourself to manage it by doing some of the following things.

Don’t Hide Your grief – wear It Share It 
Talk, I am always promoting the benefit of talking out grief…. talk to your family, discuss with them how you all might be feeling and how each of you might wish to participate in the event or not as the case may be.


Be honest ………Children do have the ability to understand .It’s ok and can be useful not to hide your grief from children. It is important to explain why you feel sad and to ensure that they know that it isn’t their fault .Ask them how they feel about their deceased parent or sibling share thoughts and feelings together give them permission to be honest too.

Decorations ?

Some families feel unable to have decorations; there might be triggers in putting up the tree or getting decorations out from their storage. One client told me that she just couldn’t take the boxes out of the loft because her husband had put them up last Christmas and he always got them down.It is acceptable not to have the jollity of decorations if you feel unable.


There are lots of ways to remember   make a special area of a room for the memory of the deceased and might have flowers a candle, a photograph. Some people like to visit the grave or a special place where they feel closest to their loved one. Others find may this too difficult. Remember Grief is unique as unique as our relationship with our loved one. It’s really about doing what feels most comfortable/manageable for you.Do only as much as you feel able to manage and not to feel pressurised into anything that feels too big.
Christmas Cards
You might be concerned about sending and receiving them, it can be very difficult to write a card and not put your loved ones  name on it and also receiving cards ,sometimes cards are sent by those unaware of the death and so the deceased’s name will be written there .Some families include the name of their loved one , one family wrote

‘Never forgetting our darling David at the end of the message .Whatever you feel comfortable with is normal and it is important that whatever you wish to do, you do.


Some families find it very difficult not to buy presents for the deceased loved one, If you wish you could donate your gift to a local hospital or hospice in their name.

On The Day
Do what is best for you. Let the extended family know how you wish to manage the day, don’t be persuaded to do anything or go anywhere that doesn’t feel right.

Make it different by having a different day, Eat at a different time and change the routine, most families have a way in which they always celebrate, your life has been changed by this bereavement and it is acceptable to change family traditions that may not be emotionally or physically possible now.
You might allot a part of the day to give special time to the memory of your loved one, share memories of them and look at videos or photo’s or write something for them .However you spend your time be kind to yourself and give yourself permission to be however you feel .


How you choose to celebrate your loved ones birthday has to be your choice, to fit with how you are feeling, here are some ideas taken from my own client’s experiences of birthdays.

Some people take flowers to the grave; others have flowers at home, A lighted candle, and a memory book for members of the family to write in. A day dedicated to the deceased. Memory books give an opportunity for conversation and for other family members to read and share how they are feeling. One family had a small gathering and celebrated the life of their father/husband, showed videos and played his favourite music. This was useful to them. Some do not wish to acknowledge the day at all they feel unable to manage it emotionally and that is ok too.

There are triggers in any event and coming to a place of manageability of life without someone you love is hard. I often say that you do not get over a death but learn to live alongside it and as time passes it becomes more manageable, but, on special occasions or when those triggers occur it can feel as raw as the day it happened.


More than anything listen to yourself, take care of yourself, don’t set your expectations too high. Things can never be the same as they were.

Try to rest – grieving is physically and emotionally exhausting.

Remember how you manage this year may not be how you plan and manage next year. As long as you are comfortable with whatever you decide to do. That is all that is important.

Whatever you do wherever you are , we wish you a peaceful time.