Times of celebration and significant events, like Christmas, can be a particularly difficult time for many people. It’s a day that is often seen as a time to celebrate and spend time with loved ones, but it can also be yet another reminder of a loss, and this can trigger emotions of grief and sadness.
In the lead up to significant events, dates and anniversaries, the first question you need to ask yourself is:
What do I need at this time?
This is not a selfish question. Significant occasions can be confronting and difficult, so make sure that you tune into your own needs, as well as those around you.
Tips for coping
These are some strategies that you can try that you might find helpful if you are grieving. It is important to do what feels right for you as everyone grieves differently.
Put yourself first
You may want to have a quiet day on your own or to spend time with friends and family. Decide how you want to spend the day, and let friends and family know so they can better support you. Free yourself from any expectations and give yourself permission to not be okay.
Try not to suppress your emotions, e.g. if you need to cry, then do so, as you will likely feel a little better afterwards. On the other hand, don’t be afraid to enjoy yourself if this occurs. Happiness and sadness can co-exist and laughter or feeling joy is not disrespectful to the memory of your loved one.
You may want to do something that makes you feel good. It may be as simple as reading your favourite magazine, going for a walk, listening to music, getting a massage or enjoying a good cup of coffee.
Have a simple act of memorial
You may feel it's important to mark the day in a special way with some small rituals to honour and acknowledge your loss. You can do this by lighting a candle, planting or buying some flowers or visiting a place which was special to you. If it feels right for you, you may want to write a card or letter sharing your thoughts and feelings.
You may also wish to make a donation in their memory and dedicate a virtual cornflower here.
Consider arranging to be with someone who understands how you are feeling during these times. Talk to other people about your memories of your loved one and ask them about theirs.
Sometimes it can also be helpful to talk to someone who is not a family member or friend, and there are support organisations available to listen. If you would like more information on services available, then please contact our Information line.
You can also read more about coping strategies on this factsheet by the ACGB.