How do I manage Christmas?

Jane Cato, our Counselling and Bereavement Services Manager blogs on how to manage Christmas when it’s difficult for you.

When you are in the midst of grief the world can be a very unwelcoming and confusing place. Everyone seems to be getting on with life around you and a lot of the time it seems as if no one has any idea of how you are feeling…if only they knew just how hard it is to get up in the morning and get dressed!

As Christmas approaches and there are sparkling lights and Christmas songs all around…your heart feels full of pain. Or you see adverts for Christmas dinner…turkey with all the trimmings…and the last thing you feel like doing is cooking and you don’t feel hungry anyway. It is at this time of year that bereaved people can feel even more isolated and alone and even alienated by all the Christmas cheer.

Maybe you don’t feel like sending out Christmas cards or going shopping for presents. I think that this is really very normal and it is OK too. Those people who care and love you will understand that this year you just don’t feel like doing Christmas.

Jenny, whose husband died a few months before Christmas last year, told me that she felt really guilty about not being able to find the energy to get Christmas organised last year. However she plucked up the courage to tell her sister how she was feeling and her family said they understood and invited her and her two children to have Christmas with them. Jenny said it was helpful doing something a little bit different than usual and her sister bought extra presents for the kids.

On the other hand Chris decided to keep everything exactly the same and when they opened their stocking on Christmas morning they talked about Mum and how much she would have loved to have been there. Chris said that they had tears and were sad…and it also allowed them all to feel close to Mum.

I think the important thing is to be gentle with yourselves and those around you, have a think about what you what to do this Christmas knowing that it will be tough and very sad and that that is OK. What we know is that when we lose someone we love it will hurt…that is a measure of the love and relationship you had with your special person. Allow yourself some time to think about your loved one and perhaps light a candle or write a message and hang it on the tree. You may then find you have some space to spend time with those around you.

And here at Martlets we are thinking of you all at this difficult time of year and wish you all very well.

Further Information

During a lengthy illness, following the funeral, or sometimes long after the death of a loved one grief may become more than you are able or willing to handle. There are services and support which can help you through this time.

Anyone whose loved one was cared for by the Martlets is very welcome to make contact with our Bereavement Service by calling 01273 273400 or emailing

Useful Services and information:  

Cruse Bereavement Service 

Cruse offer a bereavement helpline to give support as you need it in addition to their website where you can also find resources on how to support your child.

0808 808 1677

Winston’s Wish  

Winston’s Wish has a wealth of resources and advice on how to support your child through bereavement, whilst also dealing with your own grief. They also have a free phone helpline you can call.

08088 020 021

Childhood Bereavement UK 

Child Bereavement UK supports families and educates professionals when a baby or child of any age dies or is dying, or when a child is facing bereavement.