Trapped in the Christmas Pressure Cooker?
There can be a real pressure and sense of expectation for Christmas to be the most amazing and wonderful time of the year.
Christmas day will be magical and joyous and no one will get annoyed, frustrated or argue… right? Hmmm.
This may be true in festive films, adverts and social media but in reality, Christmas can magnify your struggles and intensify difficulties and feelings of distress.
Coping with loss is difficult at the best of times. Relationship breakdowns, death of a loved one, loss of your health or feeling lost in life can bring up loneliness, confusion and sadness.
And at Christmas these feelings can become overwhelming.
The death of a loved one can be truly devastating and your grief may feel just too much to bear. Enjoying the festivities can feel completely pointless and meaningless when you are without the one person who should be there with you.
Celebrating Christmas can be unthinkable!
Just plain wrong.
Perhaps you just want to cancel Christmas and be alone.
But what if your family and friends are all celebrating Christmas and encouraging you to join in, telling you how much better you’ll feel if you just:
Go the neighbours Christmas party (even just for a little while!)
Open just a few of the Christmas cards you’ve been sent
Put up just a smidge of tinsel… etc, etc, etc.
You think about your loved one and what you would have been doing during Christmases you shared in the past and reflect on the happy times (and maybe the difficult times too).
You may keep these thoughts, memories and feelings to yourself as you worry that sharing them will bring the mood down and spoil the day for other people.
Maybe you put on the mask and pretend you’re just fine.
Hiding in plain sight, feeling alone, isolated and sad.
This can be truly exhausting and in fact, all you want to do is cancel Christmas!
It may feel like you’re not allowed to cancel Christmas, and it’s impossible to ignore. So, you vow to just get through it all. Just don’t engage, don’t get involved and it’ll pass. Right?
Finding Some Relief
Well there may be another way to voice how you feel or display some of your authentic self and find some sense of relief and feel supported by those around you.
Acts of remembrance can help you feel closer to the person you’ve lost and find relief by acknowledging your grief.
So, what can you do? Here are a few ideas to give you some inspiration of how you can honour and remember your deceased loved one:
- Food: What was your loved one’s favourite Christmas dish? Prepare this food and as you serve it to others take the opportunity to share the significance of it and the memories attached.
- Music: Gather together a few songs or a particular Christmas tune that reminds you of your loved one and helps you feel closer to them.
- Light: Get a special candle and light it as symbol of your loved one’s presence during those Christmas moments; present opening, meal times, etc.
- Journal: Take some time to reminisce and write down your favourite festive memory you share with your loved one. You could add a new entry each year to create a wonderful book of Christmas memories.
- Photos: Gather some photos together that remind you of happy times you shared and place them in a significant place.
- Create a Memory Capsule: Find a sturdy box and get creative as you put photos, letters, mementos and other things in it, that remind you of them. You could ask family and friends to contribute to it. Then bury it, with a marker above the ground so you can easily find it again on the date you set to dig it up.
- A Memorable Place: Visit the gravesite or the place where you scattered the ashes. You could have a small ceremony if you like. Take the time to share your thoughts and feelings. You could leave a Christmas wreath, some flowers or a Christmas ornament at the site.
- Create a memory table: in honour of your loved one and ask friends and family to contribute photos, cards and mementos that remind you them.
- Make a Toast: At Christmas dinner or at another special time, raise a glass and share a memory or ask everyone present to share a memory as a way of creating a collective toast.
- Christmas Tradition: invite others to take part in a favourite Christmas activity that you shared with your loved one. Whether that be playing a particular game or going on a special walk or attending a Church service, share this activity with others. You could create a new tradition. Check out my blog for some ideas.
- Give to Charity: Perhaps you could donate some money or items in memory of your loved one, passing on the care and love you had for them, to those less fortunate than yourself. You could even clear out your loved one’s wardrobe and donate some things to charity in memory of that person.
- A Moment of Silence: Christmas can be a hectic time with lots of frenetic activity. Invite others to join you in a moment of silence to remember loved ones that are no longer with you.
Here’s the Hope
Your grief may feel particularly painful at this time of year as all those memories of Christmases of the past come flooding back. This pain is totally normal and understandable.
The chances are that you’re not the only one who is missing someone and struggling with grief and by voicing your loss in some small way, it will bring great comfort to them also.
Finding ways to remember you loved one, such as small gestures of remembrance, can make a huge difference to your feeling of isolation, sadness and loss.
It can enable you to feel like it’s okay to experience your grief.
It’s okay to talk about the person who’s died.
It’s okay to miss them.
This can bring you great relief.
And it is okay to talk about and feel your grief. In fact, it’s a really important part of coming terms with your loss. Without doing this, these feeling will go underground and become bigger, stronger and more difficult to manage.
Talking with family and friends may feel impossible or overwhelming which is where doing a small act of remembrance can help make this feel manageable and acceptable.
If you feel unable to talk to family and friends then I can help.
I can offer you a safe space to come to terms with your loss in a manageable way.
Through compassionate support, acceptance and warmth I can enable you to find the relief that you seek so you feel brighter, more resilient and hopeful for the future with a sense of acceptance of the changes and loss you are coping with.
Unsure what to expect?
Worried about choosing the right counsellor for you?
Committing to counselling can take real courage which is why I offer a free 15-minute phone consultation for you to ask any questions you may have and find out more about the help I can provide.