Christmas is a time of joy and celebration, filled with happiness and excitement.
But not for everyone.
For those grieving after a loved one has died, Christmas can be a very difficult time.
Whether it’s the first Christmas without that person, or it is many years, this time of year can evoke memories and heighten feelings of loss and grief.
At HOPE we support many families who have experienced the death of a loved one in sudden and traumatic circumstances, through a road traffic collision, fire or drowning. We are here for those families all year round to support them in whatever way they need. But we recognise that Christmas can be an especially challenging time.
Here are a few things for you to consider (courtesy of Christmas – Cruse Bereavement Support):
Different ways of celebrating
You might not want to celebrate at all or you might want to maintain some Christmas traditions to pay tribute to the person who has died. But it’s OK for you and your family to remember your loved one in a different way.
Find ways to remember them
You might want to talk to the person, silently or out loud, visit their grave, or a place that was special to you or them. Share photos or memories to help bring friends and family together.
Some people like to light a special candle near a picture of their loved one. Or maybe hang something of theirs on the Christmas tree, or put up a decoration with their name or picture.
Try to maintain a routine.
The Christmas period may disrupt your normal routine, and this can make it harder to look after yourself. Keeping regular patterns of sleeping and eating, where possible, can make a difference. Seeing friends and family, or volunteering for the day, are all small things that can help.
Take a break from Christmas films and TV
It can be tough when you are surrounded by happy images of families celebrating. If it is getting too much, consider taking a break from TV and social media and getting some fresh air instead.
Understandably this can be a difficult time of year for many reasons, below are some links for anyone struggling during the Christmas holidays.
- Call 116 123 to talk to Samaritans, or email: email@example.com for a reply within 24 hours
- Text “SHOUT” to 85258 to contact the Shout Crisis Text Line, or text “YM” if you’re under 19
- If you’re under 19, you can also call 0800 1111 to talk to Childline. The number will not appear on your phone bill.
- You can also call 111 for advice and help, for any more serious mental health concerns please call 999.
We want to make sure that if people need additional support over this period, this is available. Further information about local organisations in Barnsley, Doncaster, Rotherham and Sheffield who can offer bereavement support can be found by clicking on the links below:
- Bereavement support groups (barnsley.gov.uk)
- Coping with bereavement – City of Doncaster Council
- Bereavement Counselling | Sheffield Mind
- Listening Ear South Yorkshire (listening-ear.co.uk)
- Cruse Bereavement Support | Sheffield
Above all be kind to yourself and ask for help if you need it. This could be from friends or family or by talking to professionals such as the Cruse Bereavement Helpline on 0808 808 1677.
In South Yorkshire, people who have had a loved one killed in a road traffic collision, fire or drowning can contact HOPE on 0114 227 0105.
Christmas is just another day, don’t put extra pressure on yourself to try to make it something that is impossible to achieve.