Getting Through the Holiday Season
The lead up to the holiday season
If you are recently bereaved and this is the first Christmas without your partner, you will probably find the days ahead difficult to negotiate. The planning and events involved during the lead up to the holiday season will be a reminder of when you used to share this time with your partner.
Understandably, this is a period that will be hard to confront on your own and could prove to be the catalyst prompting you to ask for help. A bereavement counsellor will guide you through these tough times, if necessary. Sharing your feelings with an old friend, especially someone who was also close to your partner could be helpful.
Remembering previous happy holidays
Sharing the holiday with family and close friends and remembering joyful moments spent together, is a good way to lighten the load. A funny anecdote from a previous Christmas when your partner was alive will help to dispel any awkwardness, making it easier for those around you to feel more relaxed in your company. It will also encourage positive thoughts as you recall those happy moments.
Getting involved with preparation for the occasion could also be a practical diversion. Anything that distracts you and helps you to forget your sorrows for a while will be of benefit.
If you are spending the holiday with close family and friends, there will be no expectations for you to be particularly ‘upbeat and jolly’ – and don’t be afraid to talk about your partner. It will help to nullify an otherwise sensitive situation and might also encourage dialogue about your partner from others.
It’s OK to get upset. If this happens, just take yourself off to somewhere quiet and give in to any urge you might have to cry. Sitting quietly for a while and breathing deeply will help you to regain your composure. Those around you will understand!
You may want to spend time alone
You may want to cut yourself off from the festivities completely. The process of writing cards and leaving off your partner’s name is no small feat and could cause unnecessary anguish. Walking around the shops, choosing presents for others will also remind you of gifts you may have chosen for your partner.
However, if you have very young children, you will probably want to provide some traditional Christmas cheer and this is where shopping online comes into its own. If suitable, encourage them to write a ‘Santa List’ to further make this process as easy as possible. Anything that reaffirms continuity in their lives is important.
It’s fine to talk to your children about the absent parent. Talking about their late father or mother will help them to accept that although they may not be with them any more, those they have lost will always be a part of their lives. Share with them any happy stories from Christmas past. Ask them what they remember about their mother or father.
Try to relax and appreciate the seasonal atmosphere, if you can. Whilst the holiday season will be a tough journey for you, don’t feel too bad if you find yourself actually enjoying the celebrations. It’s OK to acknowledge this happy time of the year and you shouldn’t feel guilty if you find yourself laughing at any time or actually falling in with the festivities.
Facing the future
Use this time to create new memories, reappraise your future and congratulate yourself for coming thus far. Try to look forward with optimism. There will no doubt be down times ahead, but while you have the chance, let yourself go a little and face tomorrow when it comes.