We’re told that Christmas is a joyous season, filled with laughter, family, friends, presents, eating and drinking too much and generally making merry. But we all know that’s not really the case for everyone, especially this year…
For many, Christmas is a time of year that acts like a magnifying glass – it can make everything feel more raw, it can make problems seem insurmountable. It can make the death or absence of a loved one more painful than any other time of the year.
Losing someone we care about is never easy, but for many people the coronavirus pandemic is making things even harder this year – both for those who have lost someone during the pandemic and those who are being reminded of a previous loss.
Whether you have lost someone to coronavirus or to an unrelated cause, it is likely that the pandemic will have had an impact. You may not have been able to be with your loved one or say goodbye in the way you would have liked to, or you may have been unable to attend their funeral or hold religious rituals which are important to you.
We understand from many of our clients that though the first year after bereavement is tough, in many cases it is the years that follow that feel harder. It’s often the case that support offered by friends, family and colleagues in the first 12 months drifts away as time goes on, leaving the bereaved to cope alone more and more.
There is no time limit on grief, and everyone copes differently.
The period after Christmas too can feel long, slow and dark. The days are short, the weather is dreadful, and everywhere you go people are coughing and sniffing. It can be a time of real loneliness and isolation, particularly if you are dealing with bereavement.
For many of us, the natural response after losing someone important to us is to turn to and be with friends and family for comfort. But, when we are being asked to limit our social contact with others this year, you may feel like you are having to cope by yourself. This can be especially difficult if you have lost someone you shared a home with and you are adjusting to living by yourself.
Even though it’s harder right now, there are still ways to stay in touch with people. If you aren’t able to meet up, try to stay in touch online or over the phone. Don’t be afraid to ask for help and let people know what it is you need from them right now. This might be talking about your loved one; having someone there to distract you; or asking someone to pick some groceries up for you.
Tell the people around you that you are still struggling and that you need their understanding and support. You may discover that they have been thinking about you and wondering how you are coping, but are worried about making you feel worse by bringing everything up. By telling them honestly how you are feeling, it will give them the opportunity to support you.
Whatever your circumstances, it can really help to talk about how you’re feeling. If the death was recent you might not be ready yet and that’s OK. But do try to stay in contact with your friends and family – either over the phone or meet up outside.
Most of all, it is important to remember that it’s OK to feel sad, even years after a bereavement, that the pain you are feeling, as intolerable as it seems, is perfectly natural.
If think you might struggle over the Christmas period you can contact the Samaritans 24/7 by calling 116 123
Please note the Dove Service will be closed from 5pm on Wednesday 23rd December and will re-open at 9am on Monday 4th January 2021