Counsellor Sarah Barr shares advice on coping through Christmas without a loved one.

Any special occasion, like Christmas or any ‘first’ can be so difficult when you are bereaved, with each occasion such as a birthday, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day or Christmas bringing heartache and loss.

Emotions and experiences that you have dealt with may come back. You might notice a dip in your mood and at times feel you are going backwards in your grief.

It can at times seem easier to try to ignore any negative or painful memories and feelings. By preparing yourself in coping with any special dates, such as Christmas, may make the day a little less difficult.

The first Christmas without a loved one can bring so many challenges. Perhaps the person who you miss holds a special memory at Christmas such as helping to decorate the tree or sitting next to you at the table. When these traditions come around it can send our grief into overdrive as it is triggered by special memories. This can lead to feelings of deep upset, low mood and loneliness.

Very few of us get through Christmas without any sadness. For many of us it can be bittersweet. It can be a time when people are reminded of those loved ones, family members and friends who are no longer with us. Christmas from the ‘outside’ can seem to be a happy and joyful time, yet this is not always true.

So please be gentle with yourself and allow yourself to grieve, remind yourself it is only one day and you can get through it.

Below are some suggestions on how to mind yourself through grief this Christmas, however, please remember that you are the best person to decide what will work best for you.

 • Plan Ahead

By making a plan of how you are going to spend the day can help you feel in control of it, rather than allowing it to control you. This plan can also be changed, remember that you are in control of yourself so do what is best for you.

• Keep it Simple

Take a minute and think about what is meaningful and realistic for you. By staying true to yourself and what you want will help you to manage your feelings.

• New Traditions

By acknowledging that Christmas will be different and while you may want to keep some traditions, it is okay to change others. Try asking yourself ‘what traditions are important to you?‘ and ‘what you can cope with?’

• Talk.

If you feel you want to or are able to, talk about the person who has passed. This will let other people know that you are comfortable in talking and sharing their memory. By not mentioning their name, other people may assume that you do not want them to mention it either.

 • Accept Help.

Accepting help is not a sign that you can’t cope or are weak. Instead, it allows people who care and love you, to show you how much you mean to them

• Quiet Time.

Take some time for you, and mind yourself. This not selfish. Grieving is tiring and it is important that you care about your emotional, mental and physical wellbeing over Christmas. If and when you can have a lie down or take a short walk.

There is no right or wrong way to grieve. We are all different and experience it in our own way.

If you are living with grief and finding it difficult, there is services and people available to help within your community. Your doctor can suggest counselling/listening ear services within your area.

For any further information please call 086 4477867 or send a private message via my Facebook page.

Take Care ~ Sarah.