Facing Christmas without a loved one is always hard, this year will undoubtedly be more difficult than others. 

Gill, Senior Social Worker at Trinity, talked to us about strategies you can use to help you cope with your grief throughout this festive season. 

Hello, I'm Gill and I work with the Patient and Family Support team.

"We wanted to send a message which we hope might let you know what you're feeling is normal, or maybe just remove the shoulds and musts. Of course, this year has been particularly challenging not just personally, but globally. COVID-19 may have made your loss even more traumatic or it may make this time of year feel lonelier than you'd ever imagined. For everyone, the focus on family and togetherness may not be the right spirit this year. Seeing TV ads and images of happy family gatherings may just add to your sense that someone really important is missing and it's never going to be the same without them.

Allow yourself to be sad

"Sometimes expecting ourselves to be happy when we're not makes us feel like we've failed, so if it's not possible to be happy this Christmas, allow yourself to be sad or somewhere in between. Some of you may find it easier to focus on your values rather than happiness this year. We can value kindness, looking out for other people, nature even, without being happy and if we do find a moment for joy it's not disloyal. It can be a wonderful moment of respite from all that heaviness of grief.

Talk to your loved one

"This year, there are no rules (other than not causing yourself or others harm) Christmas can be just how you choose. You can celebrate Christmas in the knowledge that the person you love who has died would love to see you doing just that. You can remember them, allow memories of happier times. If you feel able, you can talk to them whether out loud or just in your head. It's not weird to do, this it helps create a sense that you're still connected and because you knew them so well you will be able to sense what they'd say back to you.

Break the rules

"You can aim to enjoy other parts of the Christmas experience. Maybe a few days with no traffic (that would be nice) seeing people you care about some good food and still allow that it will be different this year. For some of you with a Christian faith, it will be comforting to lean on the meaning and ritual of Christmas, but for some it won't help, or you may not have a faith or have a faith that's not Christianity.

If it feels unbearable to have a so-called “normal day” you could choose to deliberately make it different. If you normally eat turkey, eat fish. If you normally listen to a carol service, listen to hip-hop. If you normally light candles, light a firework or you can cancel Christmas. Let it just be another day whether you’re with family or friends, or on your own. Do something completely different, like have a picnic or stay in bed all day.

Ask for help

"Try it and speak to someone who doesn't expect or need you to be jolly. It can be through prayer good friend or remember the Samaritans operate on Christmas day and you don't need to be suicidal to call them.

"If the thought of the day is upsetting you already tell yourself it's just one day, I can make sure I'm comfortable and warm that's all it doesn't always have to be like this, but this year is good enough. Take care and stay safe.

Samaritans helpline

How Trinity can help