St Barnabas Hospice in Lincolnshire has put together a helpful guide for those coping with a bereavement this Christmas.
Christmas can be an especially difficult time for those going through a bereavement. Mandy Irons, Head of Wellbeing at St Barnabas Hospice, says:
“We understand how painful this time of year can be and would like to share our tips for coping with bereavement at Christmas. We provide free, local support throughout the year for all adults in the community who may be struggling with a bereavement, regardless of whether they have accessed our services or not.
“Many people tell us they find some relief from attending our bereavement groups, through talking to other people who are grieving and sharing their feelings in a safe place. As well as bereavement groups, we are also able to support people through one-to-one counselling and follow-on friendship groups.”
The St Barnabas Hospice twelve tips for coping with bereavement at Christmas are:
- Give yourself permission to cry or be emotional – it’s ok to show your feelings.
- Include the person in some way – perhaps light a candle or raise a toast. At St Barnabas you can dedicate a light in memory of a loved one on their Tree of Life. They will send you a handwritten, personalised card and silver star tree decoration so you can include your loved one in Christmas celebrations and memories.
- It is your choice to accept or decline invitations – if Christmas lunch with friends or family feels too much, perhaps you could go for a shorter amount of time or arrange to see them after Christmas.
- Give people permission to talk about your loved one. They may be frightened of upsetting you or saying the wrong thing, so let them know it’s ok to share memories, perhaps by starting a conversation or recalling a memory.
- If you are spending time with others, agree that you might also like some time alone. Helping other people understand your needs will ensure that they know how to help you and can respect your wishes.
- If you will be on your own at Christmas, you could find out what’s happening locally. Many community groups meet throughout the Christmas period.
- Explain that you might need to change your plans at the last minute. Grief can come in waves and having a safety net can be enough reassurance that you will be able to cope and that you won’t feel you are letting people down.
- Talk to friends and family beforehand. We all grieve in different ways and you may need to let others know about your feelings and worries. They may not know what to say.
- Keeping busy can be a helpful distraction, but being too busy can be exhausting. Pace yourself and give yourself time for other activities not associated with Christmas. Going for a walk or reading are both good ways to relax yourself.
- People can feel guilty about having fun with family and friends, especially if they are around others. Enjoying the company of other people and the spirit of the season can be very comforting. There’s no expectation for you to be sad all the time. We all grieve, remember and celebrate life in very different ways.
- Sometimes it’s easier to talk to people who aren’t family or friends, but who understand how difficult a bereavement can be. St Barnabas holds weekly bereavement groups across the county to help and support people whatever the time of year.
- Above all, be kind to yourself. Remember, this is just another day.
For more information visit St Barnabas Hospice
ehospice is on holiday until January 6.