When you’ve lost someone close, the festive season can be really hard. Here are some tips on how to care for yourself.

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1. Find ways to remember your loved one

That might be speaking to them out loud, or silently. You could write them a letter, or visit a special place – either with family or on your own.

Looking at photos may also help to remember the good times.

2. Find different ways than usual to mark Christmas

You might want to stick to some traditions – but you may feel you don’t want to repeat what your loved one may have started or like. It’s up to you.

Whatever makes you feel better is the right thing to do. And if you don’t feel the need to celebrate Christmas – then don’t.

3. Plan what you are going to do

For some people, it is the anticipation of Christmas coming that can be more upsetting than the day itself.

Planning what you are going to do in advance, can really help.

4. Acknowledge this time of year can be hard

Recognising that this time of year can be triggering, and a difficult time, may help you realise why your grief is feeling heightened.

It might be your first Christmas without your loved one, or you may have had a number of years without them. This time of year can still be difficult without that person.

5. Accept that people grieve in different ways

Grief is unique to each person. Even if you are in a family, people grieve in different ways.

Sometimes, this can lead to misunderstanding. Respect that everyone is different.

Be sensitive to each other’s needs, talk openly and support each other.

6. Take a break from the TV

At Christmas, TV programmes can be very sentimental.

If the TV is making you feel worse, it’s OK to take a break. Or turn it off.

7. Try and maintain a normal routine

Christmas Day can be chaotic. Try and keep your normal patterns of sleeping and eating – it’s a way of self-care and putting yourself first.

8. Look after yourself

It can be tempting to drink more alcohol or eat more than normal to numb the pain – but that feeling is only temporary. It may end up making you feel worse in the long-run, so take care of yourself.

This blog was written by Elaine McManigan. She is person-centred counsellor and a Registered Member of the BACP. Elaine works at St Clare Hospice as the Family Support Counselling Co-ordinator.

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