Don't try to be 'all things to all people', it is not your responsibility to make everything alright for everyone else. Don't let expectation get the better of you – remember, sometimes less is more and peace is better than perfection.

Some suggestions:

  • Find creative ways of remembering your loved one e.g. light a memorial candle at the dinner table and keep it for future Christmas meals.
  • Invent some new tradition(s) – a family walk somewhere new or new decorations made together.
  • Make shortcuts where you can – pre-prepared food if you can’t face cooking, online shopping or online vouchers.
  • Don’t worry if you don’t send any Christmas cards.
  • Take time to share special memories or stories of your loved one with family or friends who care. Focus on happy memories, not regrets.
  • Celebrate your loved one’s life as well as acknowledging their death. Don’t allow looking back at the past to spoil what you have in the present. Enjoy what you have as well as grieving what you have lost.
  • Do the things that are important and special to you. Leave the words “ought” and “should” out of your vocabulary.
  • Take time to think about what Christmas really means to you.
  • Believe there are reasons to go on, even though you may not see what they are just now. Believe in people, in life, love, laughter and hope. Have faith in the values and convictions by which you live. Believe in yourself, that your determination will get you through, and believe that no matter how difficult your circumstances – life can still be meaningful. Above all, believe in a brighter tomorrow and in possibilities beyond your bravest dreams.
  • Accept that you are grieving now, but you will come through it. Despite your great loss, you are not beyond repair. It may not feel like it right now, but there is hope for a future beyond the grief you feel today.

The magic of Christmas can still be very real for children, even though there is sadness in their lives. Children ‘live for the moment’ more than adults do and you may well find that they are able to enter into Christmassy things much easier than you are. Yes, there will still be moments of poignancy and sadness – but it’s likely that our children will enjoy Christmas more than we will.

Take some time beforehand to talk to them about how they would like to spend Christmas and how they would like to remember their loved one.

  • Include them in any ‘remembrance’ times or activities – but let them decide on new activities or routines as well; it’s their way of building their future.
  • Let them know that although you are sad, Christmas can be a good time – and that it’s okay for them to have fun.
  • Be prepared for them to ‘crash’ into moments of sadness from time to time – especially after the festivities are over. Children tend to get ‘up and down’ much easier and quicker than adults – be prepared to help them back to their feet again, and don’t be surprised if they’re ‘bouncing’ again before long.
  • Celebrate the fact that your children can still enjoy Christmas, even if it’s difficult for you. Don’t expect them to think or feel the way you do.
  • Maybe get children to make a special decoration and write a message on the back in memory of their loved one.
  • Cut out cardboard stars so that each family member can write a message on them, then hang on ribbon for the tree or hang along a mantelpiece or curtain rail.
  • Find a favourite family photo, make a Christmas frame for it and put it in a key location or in the table centre.
  • Be kind to yourself! Do only what you can cope with and don’t have too high an expectation of Christmas, but make the most of the company of those that you love.

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