Coping at Christmas

After losing a loved one, any time of the year can be tough but in particular Christmas is when some people find it the hardest to cope. Some people mightn’t want to celebrate Christmas at all! However, there are many positive ways to get through the festive period.

Many families carry traditions at Christmas time, as me and Victoria talked about in our latest vlog “Coping at Christmas,” but if it is too painful to carry on these traditions, put them to the side and create a new one. In doing this, it does not mean you are forgetting about that person, you are just remembering them in a new and different way. Maybe as time passes you may be able to return to the old ways and do things that you and that loved one would have done during this time of year.

Whether you want to get the family involved or you want to take a bit of time to yourself, a nice way to remember a loved one is making decorations dedicated to them. All you need is a few plain Christmas baubles, some paint, glitter, felt tips etc. and decorate your own bauble for the person and place it on your tree. This way that person can be a part of your Christmas celebrations every year. Another creative way of remembering people at Christmas time is decorating a candle. In the same way as the bauble decorate a plain candle dedicating it to that person/people and place it in the middle of the table, where everyone will be gathered and light it during your Christmas dinner. This way you may feel a comfort that the person is there with you, after the dinner it may be a nice idea, while the candle is still lit, to talk about the happy and funny memories you had with that person. Focus on the good, happy memories rather than the sad memories or regrets.

Christmas can be a lonely time for many people, especially if you’ve lost a loved one. No matter how long ago the person has died, everyday can still be tough. Grief has no timeline and no one should tell you that you “should be over it now” or “it happened ages ago, you should be okay.” For some people every day can be a struggle and Christmas is no exception. The most important thing for you to know is that you are never alone! There is always someone to lend a helping hand. If someone offers you help during the festive period – accept it – try not to isolate yourself, this will not help. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. People will not see you as weak – they will commend you for your bravery and strength.

If you have ideas of things to do at Christmas time to remember your loved one, why not respond to this blog and share your own ideas by leaving a comment below.

Happy Christmas!

Jane Molloy, HopeAgain Web Consultant

Father's Day

Every year I see my friends preparing for Father's Day, searching for the perfect present and rummaging the shelves for a card he'll love. Every year I get the same overwhelming sense of nostalgia and loss, missing the days where I was also hunting for that perfect gift. 

Every year I try to avoid the whole ordeal, but with modern advertising, be it TV, email, or just the local supermarket, the subject is impossible to avoid. Waking up to six new emails, "Just in time for Father's Day!", or "Your #1 Guy: Rad gifts for Dad!", means you just can't escape it. 

It's always painful being reminded of things you want to forget, especially when it's something you're supposed to be celebrating. My advice is: don't let it consume you. Talk to your friends, family, or even your pet, about how you're feeling. You don't have to hide how you're feeling, and you can try to remember your Dad and still celebrate the time you did have together.

What line would you write for your Dad in a Father's Day Card? 

Remembering at Christmas

Everyone has Christmas traditions, new and old. My favourite tradition in our family is our Christmas decorations. My siblings and I get a new one every year on Christmas Eve and now I have 22, one for every year of my life. 

Christmas 2006 was our last Christmas together with my Mum.  We kept by all our traditions of the day and tried to enjoy it as best we could. We all knew she wouldn’t be with us next year. Organised as ever, my Mum had bought decorations for us for next Christmas, letting us choose our favourite and wrapping them up to be opened in 12 months.

December 2007 came, and decorating the tree made me finally realise that my Mum wouldn’t be coming back for Christmas.  The day was very emotional and there wasn’t the usual festive cheer.  On Christmas Eve Dad brought out our ornaments and there they were with Mum’s writing on them for each of us: “To Bridget, love Mum”.  It hurt so much to know that was the last physical encounter I would have with her.

Eight years on, I think my family has reclaimed Christmas.  I am thankful every year for what I still have, and all the decorations my Mum bought me over the years have their own meaning and memories.  

I’ve been grateful over the last 8 years that we held onto those customs that my Mum enjoyed. We carry them on now, not only as her traditions but as ours, and it’s one way that we can remember her at Christmas with a smile on our faces.

What about you?  Will you write and tell us something about your own family’s favourite Christmas traditions?

Father's Day

Every year I see without fail the same patterns occur around Father's Day:

My peers and acquaintances getting flustered and edgy when it's mentioned because to them the date can't be brought up around me in case I burst into tears and become inconsolable.

In fact, most avoid the topic of my Father altogether for fear of a similar reaction. Truthfully though avoiding the topic of bereavement is understandable, whether or not it would provoke an emotional reaction, most people would just rather not take the risk.

Nevertheless, being a bereaved child is by no means the taboo that some regard it to be. Hopefully by sharing, talking and supporting each other we can help dispel such myths.

Patrick, guest blogger

Would you comment here about your first Mother/Father's Day without your parent?