Your First Christmas without Your Loved One
By: Beth McHugh 2010
This year, many people may be experiencing their first Christmas without a loved one. Whether it be a grandparent, a parent, a spouse, a sibling or a child, Christmas can be a bittersweet time for those who are mourning.
Although the average person on the street will allow you to grieve and talk about your lost loved one for about 6-8 weeks on average, the reality is that it takes at least one full year to even begin to get over the death of a close family member or friend.
That year contains all the anniversaries that must be gone through: Christmas, birthdays, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, wedding anniversaries. All are cause for sadness and longing for the presence of the missing one.
Christmas is no different and as it is traditionally such a family-oriented time of year, it is especially difficult and there is no escaping it. So how best to deal with it?
Some families like to talk about the missing loved one at the table and tell tales, both funny and sad, and in doing so, keep the memory of the deceased alive. In some cases the “missing chair” syndrome kicks in, that is, the place where Dad or Mum sat is empty and the atmosphere is different.
One of the ways to change the mood if the death of your loved one is weighing heavily on you is to change the venue. If it was always held in the traditional family home, try having your Christmas at a beautiful park or lake. After lunch you can go for a walk, pick some wildflowers and float them on the river or pond and think of your lost family member.
It is important to realize that your loved one would want you to remember them, but not be overwhelmed by sadness on this day. Although things will never be the same, that is the way of life. If your parent is missing, then remember that they too, have lost their parents and yet life did go on for them. Yours will too.
The death of a child is always so particularly difficult. And as Christmas is so focused on children and their happy faces as the gifts are open and the wondrous food is served, it is hard not to grieve. If you feel like crying, do so. Tears are our special relief valve and it is ok to cry on Christmas Day. In fact, if you should be feeling miserable, don’t hold on to your pain. Let it go early in the day. A good cry will clear your head and heart and allow you to participate with the living in this joyous day.
For all who are experiencing the loss of a loved one this Christmas,
be kind to yourself and think of the good times. If there were no good
times, then focus on Christmas for you and the family and friends who
do love you.