Friday, 4 December 2015

Dealing with grief at Christmas

This is a subject really close to my heart. As someone who has been through a great loss in their life, I understand that such occasions as Christmas can be an extremely difficult and trying time. No matter how many years pass, I don't think I will ever not miss seeing my Mum's face on Christmas morning. Don't get me wrong I miss her every single day but Christmas, birthdays and anniversaries are particularly distressing. The last 10 Christmases have been a mixture of incredible happiness watching my two nephews understand more and more each year, sobbing while listening to Westlife (her favourite band) and more often than not eating an entire Terrys Chocolate Orange for breakfast accompanied by a bucks fizz. One moment I'll be with my family feeling fine and the next I'll want to lock myself away in my room. That's the thing with grief, it can take over you at any time and without warning. Pain in the backside. But anyway, I didn't intend on such a ramble, I just wanted to share a few tips if you're feeling the same and let you know that you're not alone.

1. Acceptance- It sounds silly but accept that the person isn't there and it's ok to recognise that. Cry if you want to. Don't say 'I can't cry it's Christmas'. I don't give a shit what day it is, my tears are free flowing and quite therapeutic. Don't expect that the day will feel the same, it'll be different and thats ok.

2. Don't dwell- Despite what I say in number 1, once you've had your cry move on! Try not to let an emotional wave ruin your entire day.

3. Company- Surround yourself with people that you love and love you. They can act as a great distraction but also allows you to reminisce about that person if the mood takes you there. I particularly enjoy spending time with my nephews throughout the entire Christmas period, there is nothing that makes me happier than seeing them happy.

4. New traditions- Don't be afraid to bring in new traditions. It doesn't mean that you love them any less or have forgotten them. It means that life goes on, which is the cruel truth. It might seem daunting but it could create memories that you will always treasure and bring light to a shitty, shitty situation.

5. Don't be scared to laugh- Laughing is ok. Being happy is not disrespectful to the person you are missing. They wouldn't want you to wallow.

6. People mourn in different way- If a family member is dealing with it in a different way to you, accept that thats what they need to do for themselves. Everyone is different and cope in different ways. In their head they are just as distraught but probably feel that they have to put an act on. Let them.

7. Commemorate them- You can do this in your own way. Personally I visit my Mum's grave on either Christmas Eve or Christmas Day and put down a wreath. Which is something that I was used to doing with my Mum for my Grandparents. Plus we always put out a Father Christmas ornament that my Mum bought and I now can't imagine Christmas without it. I find great comfort in seeing it propped up against the TV. It's strange how something so trivial can mean the world to you.

8. Don't be afraid to ask for help- Whether this be from a friend, family member, your Doctor or a councillor, speak to them about how your feeling. The phrase 'a problem shared is a problem halved' is so true in my opinion and experience. Just getting it off your chest can help. If you can't bare the thought of doing your Christmas shopping thats fine, it can be overwhelming. Ask a friend to pick you up a few things while they're out doing their own shopping, order stuff online. Whatever way you decide to do it, theres a way of avoiding the commercialism of a 'perfect Christmas'.

Ultimately you can't be sure how you're going to react but take your time and take a step back if you feel the need, the people that you're spending it with will understand. If you're feeling overwhelmed and have the feeling that you can't cope please speak to someone. Tweet me, email me. We might not have chatted before but I know how you feel and I might be able to help, please don't struggle in silence.

I also find that a couple of glasses (bottles) of wine help! :)

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