People who are grieving often dread Christmas Day, especially when it is the first one after the death of someone close to us. Facing a festive season, when it appears that all those around us are getting excited and enthusiastic about it, can be difficult. Here at Mountbatten, we understand grief and recognise that Christmas can be hard for people who mourn. Here are some suggestions that might help you through the day.

  1. Accept your feelings — whatever they might be. Everyone takes his or her own path in grief and mourning. Some may try to avoid sad feelings; others will be very tearful. Some feel bad that they aren't up for enjoying a holiday; others feel guilt because they are able to enjoy things. However you feel, accept it without judging yourself for feeling the way you do.
  2. Only do what feels right - It’s up to you to decide which activities, traditions or events you can handle. Don't feel obliged to participate in anything that doesn't feel ‘do-able’. Planning what you are going to do well ahead of the day means you are not worrying about it until Christmas Eve. If you can’t face doing anything, or if you change your mind at the last minute, that is fine too. It is only a day, and it will pass.
  3. Talking helps - Talk with loved ones about your emotions. Be honest about how you'd like to do things this year — if you want to talk about the person who has died, then do so. Talking to others who are also grieving can help you not to feel so alone. Why not seek out our Mountbatten bereavement support group and find out how others get through Christmas?
  4. Creating rituals and new traditions - If Christmas is important to you as part of your faith, you may find it helpful and comforting to participate in Christmas rituals or services and to be with people of your faith. Even if you have not been to church for a time, you will always be welcomed. You might like to speak to the local minister ahead of the day, to tell them why Christmas is difficult for you and to ask for their prayers. If going to a church with lots of people is too daunting, then you would be most welcome to join our simple service of Holy Communion in the chapel at Mountbatten at 11.30am on Christmas Day.

If you decide to spend time with your family on Christmas Day, you might like to light a candle for the person who has died and have it on the table at Christmas dinner. You can acknowledge that you miss their absence from the meal, but also recognise that they are still with you in your thoughts and memories. If you are on your own, perhaps you could invite someone else who is also alone, and if you don’t feel like cooking, book a table at Mountbatten for Christmas day lunch!

  1. Seeing beauty -. being in nature can help to lift the spirits. We are so fortunate on the Isle of Wight to be surrounded by such wonderful scenery. Why not visit a beach, or a favourite viewpoint on Christmas Day; even a few minutes of fresh air, can help to change your perspective and renew your energy.

However you decide to spend Christmas, know that there are others who understand and who are here to listen and offer you support. If you would like more information about our Psychology and Bereavement Service, contact us on (01983) 533776