Written by Alex, a Winston’s Wish content creator
Just seeing that word can conjure smells of cinnamon and gingerbread; of neatly wrapped square gifts under a spectacular tree; and of course, an enormous happy family, wearing colourful paper hats, sat around a vast food-filled table.
But what if it’s not?
Christmas can amplify everything, and when you’ve lost someone, it especially magnifies the empty space – an empty space at the table. A gap under the tree where their gift should be. Their name on the Christmas card list, unticked.
So many questions can fill your mind at these times…
- Can I still celebrate?
- Should I still enjoy Christmas?
- Can we do the same traditions?
- Should I feel sad right now?
- Should I not feel sad now?
There can be such a pressure at Christmas for everything to be perfect.
When you’re grieving, it can be hard for things to be close to perfect (not that this really exists anyway!).
So, here are some things to take a bit of the pressure off:
Allow yourself to feel all the feels
Whether you’re feeling happy, sad, resentful, guilty… just sit with them or talk to someone. If you want to visit the grave or a special place that reminds you of that person, do it. If it’s too much for you, that’s fine too! It’s all OK and IT WILL PASS. It’s okay to feel however you feel.
Missing the love you felt?
Why not pass it on! Give someone a smile, a gift or an unexpected call. You’ll get that familiar fuzzy feeling on the inside in return.
Sometimes sitting with grief and dwelling on it can be difficult. Try putting your mind and hands to work. Create something – make a cake, write a story, build something with Lego – It doesn’t have to look great, but it’ll keep you busy, it can give you a sense of purpose, and it will hopefully be fun (plus, if you pass it on to someone you care about- twice the joy!)
Make it about you!
Christmas is a time to indulge, right? This doesn’t have to be in stuff or even food. Make new traditions that YOU like. Or you could even stay all day in your PJs with your favourite boxset. Do whatever makes you feel a bit better – even if just for a while.
Christmas should soon produce feelings of warmth, gratitude, be personal to you and hopefully be a time to release just a teeny bit of pressure. You’ve got this.
How to speak to Winston’s Wish
If you’re struggling with grief right now, Winston’s Wish is here to help and here to listen. Winston’s Wish provides support for grieving children and young people (up to the age of 25). We offer one-to-one and group support sessions. We also have lots of online resources and a Helpline, email and live chat service where you can talk to bereavement professionals.
If you need urgent support in a crisis, you can contact the 24/7 Winston’s Wish Crisis Messenger by texting WW to 85258.