Navigating Grief at Christmas – 10 top tips

 Jean Francis

Many of us will have become the family Elders, a privileged position and one of responsibility to our children, grandchildren and even in some cases to our great grandchildren.

Loosing someone close to you is a devastating experience at any time but their absence will be magnified tenfold at times of celebration.

At Christmas when families traditionally gather together, this year will be particularly challenging but there are many things that we can do to help heal the pain and use the experience as a way to grow stronger, wiser and more resilient.

In the not too distant past when someone died their name was never again mentioned following the funeral. Now, I suggest that you say their name often.  There will undoubtedly be tears as well as laughter.

Here are my 10 top tips to help navigate your way through what could be a challenging Christmas:

  • Create a sacred space in the form of beautiful altar/shrine/centrepiece for your room. Cover a small table with a carefully chosen cloth or fabric. Place a favourite photograph of your loved one/s in the centre surrounded by meaningful, personal objects Light candles and decorate with seasonal fruits, flowers and items from nature. If they enjoyed a favourite tipple or chocolate treats add those too. Their spectacles and a favourite book… Maybe invite others to bring something meaningful to place on the shrine
  • A family meal without them will leave a gaping and empty space. Lay a table setting and put a photograph in their place
  • Light a candle, join hands around the table and say their name
  • Drink a toast to honour their memory
  • Assemble a journal of photographs, letters and items of memorabilia
  • Write a piece of poetry expressing you feeling and emotions dedicated to them
  • Share photographs, talk about the good times and remember
  • Gift personal possessions hat have belonged to that special person to those who will appreciate and cherish them; books, scarves, jewellery etc. Where possible tell the story of each item and see the smiles on peoples’ faces
  • Plant a tree in their memory, maybe with berries to feed birds in the winter or a fruit tree to enjoy the bounty of autumn yourselves
  • Is there a way that you could turn your sadness into a positive experience?  Your loss can not be erased but it is possible to find a way that will honour the memory of your loved one ensuring that their memory lives on eternally?

Finally, do say their name often and remember that LOVE never dies.

See: Ashes and Memorials – 60 ways to be remembered by Jean Francis