How to Cope with Grief at Christmas
How to Cope with Grief at Christmas
If you've struggled with grief this year, here's how to cope with grief at Christmas
Learning how to cope with grief is a lifelong journey. Christmas can be a truly difficult time for anyone who is grieving for loved ones, especially with all the reminders. It can be even more difficult to know how to cope with grief at Christmas.
An empty chair at the family table can be a harsh reminder of the absence of a loved one. Christmas can be especially challenging because everything revolves around being with family and loved ones.
Your first Christmas after losing a loved one can be particularly heartbreaking. Everything from happy-go-lucky TV adverts to constant reminders of gift-giving can be a trigger. This could have you bursting into tears unexpectedly, you may feel angry or guilty.
You may also feel nothing at all, like you’ve been dumbed down to surviving on autopilot. Anxiety may be flooding your senses. Maybe you're dreading the coming future and how the holidays will look like without that special someone. All those feelings are valid and normal.
Everyone grieves differently. Grief is a hard emotion and everyone has to find a way to cope with it. Some seek support, while others seek isolation. Others will indulge in food, drugs, alcohol or sex. Some will be suppressing grief, while others will suffer with bursts of emotion. Many won’t really know how to cope with grief at Christmas.
My journey with Grief
Wherever you’re at, chances are I’ve been there myself at some point in my life. I lost both of my parents, each far too young. In addition to this, Christmas was always a complicated time in my household.
Drink and drugs created a challenging atmosphere, which often ended in arguments, physical fighting and tears. But even still, I’d accept all of that to have them back in our lives. And there’s no time like Christmas to remind us of those we are missing.
Some say grief never goes away, it just gets smaller and easier to cope with. In my experience this is true. In the early Christmases after losing my mum, I turned to drink to try and cope.
Maybe I was trying to numb the sadness, or to connect with her in some way. Either way, it never helped, as it only brought back memories of how alcohol had destroyed her own life, and the chaos that came with that.
Learning how to cope with grief at Christmas can help
While it’s impossible to speed up or get rid of grief, it can be helpful to have some strategies to help you get through the difficult times when it will affect you most. If you’ve had a difficult time this year, you may want to find out how to cope with grief at Christmas.
Read on for some ideas based on my own experience in life, and as a qualified Hypnotherapist.
Let yourself grieve
It’s okay to not be jolly at Christmas.
The darkness within you can feel even darker when aggravated by all the Christmas lights. The expectation to be cheerful can be quite overwhelming, and even create more guilt.
So, give yourself permission and space for grief. You don’t have to keep everything as it always was if you don’t want to. Think about which holiday traditions you wish to uphold and which ones you want to put on pause this year.
Dealing with grief during holidays might mean that some changes to how you spend those days are in order. At least for now.
Honouring the memory of a lost loved one might provide some comfort. Here are some ideas you could try for doing this:
- Put up a picture of them at their seat at the table or put a symbolic ornament up on the Christmas tree.
- Share stories about the person you lost with your family and friends to help you relive some happy memories as well as share your sorrow.
- Buying a gift for someone in need instead of the gift you would have bought can also be a nice gesture for some.
- Buy a gift for each other on behalf of the departed loved one, this could be something fun which represents them, or something meaningful to them in some way.
If you are truly alone at Christmas, it can be even harder to cope with grief. Volunteering could be a good way to meet people and create a sense of purpose at Christmas time.
It can also be a great way to distract yourself if you're wondering how to cope with grief at Christmas. There are many ways you can get involved in volunteering at Christmas, here are some ideas:
- Contact your local homeless charities. St. Mungo’s have homeless shelters in London and the South East of England. There will be some local groups providing support too.
- Get in touch with Shelter, Crisis, Salvation Army or your local church. They sometimes offer Christmas meals and shelter to homeless people, and will always be looking for volunteers.
- Reach out to Age UK. Many elderly people spend Christmas alone, and even more now with the pandemic. Age UK, offer telephone befriending services to support the elderly facing loneliness throughout the year.
Ask for support
Loneliness at Christmas can make it even more difficult to cope with loss. That’s why it’s important to ask for help. You don’t have to go through it alone. Whether you reach out to friends, family or a therapist, there are people who will want to be there for you.
If you are thinking about getting support through therapy, there are many ways to do this. Personally, I found that getting support from a qualified therapist helped me to work through the different and complex emotions attached to my grief.
Grief can feel like you're drowning on the inside. Therapy can help guide you to the surface where you can start to breathe again.
It can help provide a safe space to explore those feelings, without judgement or worry about affecting others. Sometimes, just having someone neutral to talk through your feelings with can help lift the burden you feel inside.
How Hypnotherapy can Help you find How to Cope with Grief at Christmas
While there is no fast track through grief, Hypnotherapy can help you find peace and acceptance. A skilled hypnotherapist can help you process your sorrow, guilt or anger you may be feeling.
You may also want help to break out of any addictions or other harmful coping mechanisms you might have turned to in your desperation. It can help you find a safe space within yourself to grieve and give you resources to support yourself in the harder times.
Recovery from grief is about finding compassion for yourself and others involved, and nurturing your ability to gently rebuild yourself. You may never be the same person without the loved one in your life, but you can be a happy version of yourself again in time.
At the right pace and time for you, Hypnotherapy can help you reconnect with all the positive memories you made with the person, without the burden of heavy feelings.
Grieving and Christmas are a tough combination. With hypnotherapy, it can be possible to open up to opportunities to increase love and connection in your life.
Your grief won’t disappear overnight, nor does it have to. But you can find a way to make peace with it and treat yourself with love on your way to healing.
Prolonged Grief Syndrome
Hypnotherapy can help if you’re suffering from long term grief. Hypnosis is a gentle practice which can help you to focus on the positive aspects of your person’s existence, instead of just the loss of it.
Grief is a type of trauma, and if you’ve been suffering the effects of grief for a prolonged period you may have prolonged grief syndrome. If so, it could be time to reach out for support.
If you feel it is the right time for you, I’d be honoured to help you carry your load. I’ll handle your grief with care, like I do my own.