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 is that really the case?
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, and it can make the death or absence of a loved one more painful than any other time of the year.
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.
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.
It is important to plan for this time of year, make arrangements to spend time with friends, make space to spend time on your own doing something you enjoy, make time to remember the person you are missing and perhaps do something in their memory. Maybe do something that you would not normally do, like volunteer at a local church or soup kitchen, go and stay with relatives, or take a break away.
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, so you telling them honestly how you are feeling will give them the opportunity to support you.
But 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 Monday 23rd December and will re-open at 9am on Thursday 2nd January – please do not hesitate to contact us if you need support – call us on 01782 683155 to speak with our Referrals Team.