Here, as we wish you a Merry Christmas, we list resources for those who find Christmas hard, maybe because they are grieving over the loss of someone they love. It’s edited from the Good Grief! newsletter published on December 14. But before we go to that, today is the first anniversary of the death of my dear Dad, Ken.
I miss him but I also feel that he is always with me. I hear his laughter, his wry humour, his wise words his philosophising and laughter. He was one of those rare people who is both a deep thinker and easy company.
Love you still Dad!
A bereavement counsellor told me recently that this is the busiest time of year for her because so many people, grieving over the loss of someone they love, whether recently or even several years ago, find Christmas terribly, terribly hard.
“It’s a really tricky time of the year. Stress levels in the community tend to be high. And many of my clients have a desperate need to connect with our services at this time of the year,” she said.
ReachOut, an online resource for young people, explains why Christmas can be tough.
“Major religious festivals are often a time when people get together with family and friends, so if you’ve lost someone you love, this time can be a pretty stark reminder of that. While everyone reacts differently, a lot of people find this time difficult.”
“This may have been a time you usually spent with the person you’ve lost, so it’s completely normal to feel sad that they’re no longer with you. You may react more sensitively to things or feel detached from those around you.”
The Sue Ryder Foundation’s tips for this time
The English based Sue Ryder Foundation offers these fabulous tips, among others, for: “Finding new ways to remember the person you’re missing during this time can bring you together as a family.” Examples of this include:
- Buying or making your own Christmas ornament or bauble to remember those who have died. If a photograph feels too much, then perhaps use a ribbon of their favourite colour or a sentimental object.
- Bringing out the person’s stocking, or make one for them, so that you, your friends and family can fill it with cards, messages or letters. You can decide as a family whether you then would like to share these out-loud or keep them private.
- Having a small Christmas tree or memory wreath set up somewhere within your home in honour of the person who has gone. You could decorate this tree or wreath with their favourite colours, photographs, any meaningful objects or messages.
Comfort food for Christmas time.
Lyndey Milan, my wonderful collaborator in our Comfort Food for Grief series, reminding me that many will be alone on Christmas Day, has invited me to share her recipe for Prosciutto Egg Cups.
“They’re easy to transport and you can drop them into someone who’ll be alone on Christmas Day, and they can eat them at any time of the day,” Lyndey says.
We sincerely wish that all who are alone but don’t want to be and all who are at risk on Christmas Day find connection with others. Loneliness can kill.
As we put up the Christmas decorations and prepare for our annual family holiday on the NSW South Coast, another extraordinary year draws to a close.
I was going to delete the word ‘extraordinary’ because it didn’t sound quite right. And then I realised, no. It has been one in a series of extraordinary years – and the extraordinary will, no doubt, keep coming.
What a year it’s been
In 2022 Good Grief! emphasised community connection over internet connection – so life was filled with more public talks, workshops, seminars and yarning circles. Like the one where an elderly man came up to me afterwards and said he was so glad he’d joined the conversation. He’d never talked to anyone about death before; what happens, how family relationships are affected, whether he needed a will, how he saw his funeral.
“I feel a lot lighter. I’m going to go home to talk these things through with my daughters now,” he said.
And our real life engagement provided a healthy harvest to feed our internet relationships. So soon we popped up on The Surviving Siblings Podcast and at the Lifting the Lid Festival all made possible through new connectivity such as a quality podcasting platform and a virtual events platform
In 2023 we will push on, supported by a growing audience, growing community support and collaborations and a desire to make Good Grief! more useful to you. So watch this space.
We look forward to seeing you next year and hope you have a Merry Christmas, a Happy New Year and a very restful break. Thank you!
Resources for Christmas time grief
Lifeline if you need to talk to someone now.
Their number is: 13 11 14.
Reach Out is an online support for young people.
Lyndey Milan shares 10 fabulous ideas for putting together Christmas goodies, perfect for bringing festive cheer into your life, no matter the circumstances.
The Sue Ryder Foundation’s Coping with Grief at Christmas can be found here. The Sue Ryder Charity is based in England, but its ideas about managing grief at Christmas time are useful for anyone.