Christmas is one of my favourite times of the year – once I stop grumbling about the awful weather of course.
The food, smells and atmosphere are unrivalled and spending quality time away from the office with family and friends is something that I look forward more than anything else.
However, for some, it can also bring along bittersweet memories. With family being one of the main aspects of Christmas Day, it can highlight the void left behind by those who are no longer with us to celebrate, eat, drink and be merry. Dealing with bereavement is undoubtedly more difficult than ever at this particular time of year.
It’s not something that I usually talk about on here but a few years ago, the girls and I lost somebody close, a member of our household, very suddenly and unexpectedly.
The first Christmas as a family of three was incredibly hard, but we tackled this by doing something completely different, in an effort to create new memories. Since then, we’ve found our own little ways of remembering and honouring the past throughout the festive period.
From the 1st December, we light our advent candle. This only takes around an hour to burn each evening and serves as a symbolic reminder to reflect on the past
Sitting around with hot chocolates and old photographs, the girls and I enjoy reminiscing on old memories together. Tales of holidays, Christmases past, cherished times and humorous anecdotes can help to lighten our grief and remind us of the happier times too.
Again, with Christmas being generally a busy, family-focused time, it’s also important to find a little headspace. Wrapping up warm and taking an hour of solitude in the crisp, fresh air can work wonders, both physically and mentally.
Personalised Christmas decorations are a nice, practical reminder to have around the home. We purchase a new one every year and, in the midst of decorating the tree together, this helps to include our lost loved ones in our festivities.
Leading on from the last one, our local church holds a special Christmas memorial service every year. The vicar reads poignant and thought-provoking psalms as we quietly pay tribute to those in our hearts. Along with a few chosen prayers, we each take along a decoration of our choice to be placed upon the church tree. Now, I’m not particularly religious but I do find a great deal of comfort in this tradition.
Obviously, these things are not substitutes for the loss of a loved one. Just remember that it’s OK to grieve, regardless of the merriment, and talking can be enormously therapeutic for some.
If you are struggling during the Christmas period, you are not alone and its important to seek extra help when needed.