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Advice for Christmas – Pressure & Preparation

At Wathall’s, we know that Christmas can be daunting for those that are bereaved, whether the bereavement was recent or many years ago. Last year, we put together four blogs offering advice for the run up to Christmas.

Using our resources, last year’s blogs and my own personal experience with grief, I have put together some pieces of advice for the run up to Christmas. This will be my third Christmas with an empty seat at the table and each year I have learned something new about how to cope.

This week’s theme is Pressure & Preparation

There is so much pressure around Christmas. I have found that throughout my adult life I have been sucked into the ideology of having the perfect Christmas. It wasn’t until I was hit with the truck that is grief, that I finally saw what an unachievable goal I had set myself.

There are thousands of tasks to complete, activities and occasions, stress levels can get quite high. When you are grieving, you may feel like you just don’t have the energy to do very much at all. This couldn’t have been truer for myself and my family, we just didn’t have the energy, both mentally and physically. I started to research into ways I could make our first Christmas with the empty chair a little easier and one thing kept cropping up – Preparation.

Preparation is a great way to relieve pressure. I tried asking myself these two questions: “How much can I do?” and “What do I want to do?”. I soon changed my plans for Christmas into something that I knew I could handle. You and your family’s needs are important now, you don’t need to worry about the needs and expectations of others.

It became quickly apparent that all my anxiety around Christmas, and to some extent, day to day life, was around what I thought other people expected me to do – carry on as normal. Being someone who has grown up in the funeral industry, I never expected a bereavement so close to me, having witnessed so many others – I just didn’t know how to act. It was in the November of 2016 that I knew I needed to change what I expected of myself. I sat in the supermarket car park of the small town where I live and have grown up. I knew that there was a very high chance that I would bump into someone I know as it was so busy, and I was worried about how I would react to that all too familiar question of “how are you doing”. It was at that point that I decided…I’m going to do my shopping online. This little victory against grief gave me the confidence I needed to make positive changes in my life to help myself live with the empty chair.

Try to decide what is important by making a list of the things you are going to do. Be realistic expecting too much from yourself or giving yourself too much to do. Take some time to decide how you are going to spend Christmas this year, if you have family and children that your decision affects, try to involve them in the process, you may find it a comfort as they will probably be feeling the same way. Some people want to keep Christmas exactly as it was, some people want to try something new like going away or volunteering for the day or even cancel Christmas completely. Whichever way you go, make that decision based on what is best for you and the loved ones going through the same difficult time.

If you would like to speak to a member of our Bereavement Support Team, please call 01332 345268