There are many ways to cope with grief at Christmas. When dealing with the loss of a loved one at Christmas, one thing to keep in mind is there is actually no right or wrong way to celebrate the holidays.
Coping With Grief at Christmas
Holidays are a time for fellowship and friendship with those you love. However, for many bereaved families, it is also the time of year when they remember the ones in their lives who have died. How one handles this grief depends on many factors:
- Relationship to the person who died.
- Time since loved one's passing.
- How many living family members and friends will join in holiday festivities.
- What stage of grief the bereaved person is in.
Once these factors are identified, the bereaved can decide what would be best in dealing with grief at Christmas. There are many ways this can be done including honoring the loved one lost or creating new family traditions.
It Is Normal to Grieve?
It's okay to be sad when you miss someone you love. It's only natural to feel the grief and heartache associated with being alone. When you start feeling overwhelmed by the holidays:
- Spend some time alone, reading your bereavement cards or letters from others about the person who died.
- Go to the cemetery or resting place.
- Write a letter to the person who died.
- Seek counseling if the grief is too overwhelming to handle alone.
- Share memories of the person with whoever will listen.
Hold a Memorial Service
On Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, hold a special graveside memorial service honoring the person who died. This will give everyone a chance to connect with their feelings about the deceased person. Activities to include in the memorial service are:
- Singing a few special holiday songs.
- Reading a few favorite Bible passages or poems.
- A photographic slideshow at the Christmas celebration.
- Placing favorite flowers or grave blankets on the headstone.
- Lighting a candle in your loved one's memory.
- Have a moment of silence to honor your loved one.
- Have a special Mass or religious service held in the deceased person's memory.
Christmas Grief Quotes
The following sentimental and poignant Christmas grief quotes about the loss of a loved one could be included at the memorial service:
- "Every day without you since you had to go, is like a summer without sunshine and Christmas without snow."
- "I'll always feel you close to me and though you're far from sight, I'll search for you among the stars that shine on Christmas night."
- "Although it's sad to reminisce on Christmases we knew, this year I shall celebrate in memory of you."
"Our time together taught me what Christmas time is for, and that's what I'll remember until we meet once more."
Create New Family Traditions
Grief at Christmas can be eased by changing family traditions that normally would make you sad. If it is a parent you grieve, then make your holiday festivities different than what they were when he or she was alive. Change the location of the celebration or just do things differently if that is what you prefer. If it was a child who passed away, consider including him or her in your celebration:
- Put up a stocking with the child's name on it
- Add the child's name to Christmas cards in a way that makes you and your family feel comfortable
- Place flowers or toys at the child's resting place
- Make a toy donation in his or her name
- Buy a special angel ornament to add to your tree
Take a Year Off
There is no rule that says you have to celebrate Christmas with your family and friends. If your grief is so fresh or overwhelming, take a year off. Spend the day watching your favorite movies alone if that is what you want to do. You don't have to put up a Christmas tree or send out holiday cards. If anyone asks, tell them you needed some time for yourself this year and hope to be back into the festivities next year. Instead of celebrating, you can:
- Volunteer at a food kitchen
- Spend time at your favorite spot meditating or reflecting
- Take a long walk
- Spend time with an elderly neighbor or one who is alone on Christmas
- Create your own support group and invite others over who are suffering through the same kind of loss.
- Give to causes your loved one cherished with a monetary donation or your time.
Celebrate the Holidays When You're Ready
Christmas is exactly what you make of it. It can be a joyous time of year or it can leave you feeling sad and lonely. Remember, don't do anything that makes you uncomfortable. You are the one grieving and need time to do that.