Can I celebrate Christmas when someone dies?
Christmas is a holiday synonymous with joy, togetherness and celebration. But amidst the twinkling lights and festive cheer, the festive season can amplify the ache of no longer having loved ones around. After a loss, you may feel guilty about celebrating Christmas with surviving friends and family. While these emotions are unlikely to fade away in the run-up to Christmas, it’s important that you find a path that honours your grief and allows you to embrace moments of joy.
We recognise that grief is different for everyone, so this blog will guide you through the mixed emotions you may feel throughout the Christmas season.
Should I celebrate Christmas?
Deciding whether to celebrate Christmas after a loved one dies is a deeply personal choice based on your emotions and individual circumstances. Some find comfort in upholding traditions, using them to honour and cherish the memories of loved ones who are no longer around. Others may choose to bypass the celebrations to try and come to terms with their loss through quiet reflection.
There’s no right or wrong answer. Choosing whether to celebrate Christmas or not is all about honouring your feelings and respecting the journey you are on with your grief, regardless of what other people may think.
How to navigate Christmas after someone dies
After the loss of a loved one, Christmas Day is likely to look and feel very different from your usual celebration. That’s not to say you can’t enjoy the day, but pre-empting the difficult moments will help you be more prepared. Here are some tips on how you can guide yourself through the festive season:
Share your plans with loved ones
Your friends and family are bound to be concerned about you spending time alone, so it’s a good idea to inform them about your Christmas plans in advance. The thought of being around a large group of people may be too overwhelming for you as you work through your grief. That’s completely normal, but letting your loved ones know ahead of time will help ease their concerns and allow them to offer support in a way that respects your needs.
Similarly, if you want to join in with the celebrations, inform your friends and family so they can include you in their plans. They’ll be more than happy to have you there, even if you can only manage an hour or two in company.
Embrace new traditions
If you find yourself feeling indifferent, resentful or apathetic towards your festive traditions, you might want to celebrate Christmas slightly differently. Traditions you once shared with the person you lost can trigger feelings of sadness and grief, making it feel like the festive period is something you need to get through instead of enjoying. If so, introducing new traditions and festivities may help you move through your grief.
Alternatively, you may find comfort in keeping the same traditions. Don’t feel guilty about doing the things that bring you joy throughout the festive season. If you feel up to it, put up your decorations, bake your favourite Christmas treats and watch your beloved festive films. No one will think any differently of you for finding happiness in the things that bring you comfort.
Leave a seat at the table for your loved one
After the death of a loved one, you may be faced with an empty chair at the dinner table. Instead of seeing a vacant space, try to focus on what the chair represents. Your loved one may no longer be around, but their seat at the table symbolises love, memories and the special moments you shared when they were alive. You may also want to light a candle or put a picture of your loved one in front of their seat to bring them into your Christmas celebration.
As you gather with your family and friends this Christmas, raise a glass to your loved one. They’ll be with you in spirit.
Try something new
Some of our families take comfort from trying something completely different at Christmas. If you don’t feel up to celebrating the festivities in your usual way, you could take the opportunity to do something you’ve always wanted – like going on holiday or spending a few days away from home.
Don’t be afraid of the tears
When Christmas arrives, you may shed a tear or two. It’s natural to bottle up your feelings in fear of putting a dampener on celebrations, but tears are never a negative thing. Crying is healthy and completely normal, especially at Christmas. Your loved ones will understand and will be there to put their supportive arm around your shoulder.
Find comfort at our Christmas Remembrance Service
Come and join us at your local Park on the 10th of December for our annual Christmas Remembrance Service. Featuring carols and readings, our Christmas Service is a lovely way to come together with friends and family to remember those no longer with us. Join us afterwards and have a Cuppa for Cruse. In aid of their work that strives for everyone grieving to get the support they need, when they need it.
If you have a loved one who’s grieving and needs support this Christmas, read our blog for advice on what to say and do.
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