Christmas is a time of happiness and light. It’s a time for making memories with friends and family. It’s a time for laughter, good food and love. For many, it’s a time that we look forward to for months. But it’s important to remember that not everyone has a joyous Christmas. The holiday season can be difficult for anyone who has lost someone they love.
This time of the year can bring up memories of a loved one who is no longer with us, and that can be upsetting and hard to cope with for someone who is still grieving. Whilst everyone is spending time with their families and having fun, you might find yourself asking why you are not having that same happy experience.
Having lost my dad when I was 15, I tend to find Christmas and the holiday season a little bittersweet. Christmas has always been, and always will be, my favourite time of year. I love the lights, putting up a tree, wearing my Christmas jumper, visiting the German Market in Birmingham and exchanging gifts with my friends.
It’s impossible to escape the feeling that someone is missing from the festivities
For the past few years, however, as much as I have enjoyed Christmas, it has all been coupled with a feeling of sadness without the person who I associate the season with so much.
The first Christmas after you lose a loved one always feels like the hardest. It’s impossible to escape the feeling that someone is missing from the festivities, and you can’t help but yearn for the moments and memories that you took for granted.
It’s sad to say, but it doesn’t necessarily get much easier throughout the years. You just cope in your own way, and make new traditions every year. The memories and traditions you once had might be painful to look back on, but you can learn to make new memories. This doesn’t mean the memories with your loved one are forgotten; you just try to incorporate these with positive new ones.
It’s not about replacing the old memories, just adjusting and creating new ones
I found it particularly hard to adjust to the holiday season the first few years after losing my dad. I was so used to spending Christmas Day with him, and then going to my mum’s on boxing day. The tradition of getting two Christmases was a deep part of my excitement surrounding Christmas.
My best coping mechanism is to make new traditions. Instead of the huge traditional Christmas dinner that my dad would make every year, my mum, stepdad and I prefer to have something special but a little different. I look forward this time with them each year. It’s not about replacing the old memories, just adjusting and creating new ones. And that is part of life anyway.
Christmas Day is still quite hard for me, but I find that talking things through with my mum can help overcome feelings of sadness. We’ll sit down and watch a Christmas film or do something fun. There was a time when I preferred to ignore Christmas, almost pretending it didn’t exist, that it was just a normal day. This may have suited how I was feeling at the time, but I don’t want to do this forever.
It is always important to remember that you are not alone
It’s so important that you talk to someone if you’re finding Christmas hard after losing a loved one. Never feel like you are a burden or ruining someone else’s holiday. I am sure that the people around you would prefer you to talk through how you are feeling and will completely understand.
It’s not strange or silly to find it hard to cope this holiday season and it is always important to remember that you are not alone. If you’re struggling with grief this Christmas, reach out to those you love and try to make new memories. You will always have the memory of your loved one in mind. Remember that it will get easier.