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  • Writer's pictureVanessa May

How to survive Christmas when you're grieving

This time of year can be so challenging for those of us who have experienced significant losses. There seem to be triggers everywhere, painfully bitter-sweet reminders of happy times with those who are no longer physically here.

Grieving at Christmas can leave us feeling more isolated than usual as we witness those around us - perhaps forgetful now of what we've been through - cheerfully planning their family gatherings, when for us life will never be the same again.

The build up to Christmas can relentlessly heighten emotions that may already feel immensely challenging. Things you once enjoyed may now feel meaningless. Family dynamics may have changed as everyone seems to be on a different page of their 'grief journey' - and that can make the absence of those who are missing hurt even more.

candle for grief at Christmas

So how do we survive Christmas when we're grieving? 

There's no right or wrong way to do Christmas post-loss. I've come to believe that you should aim to do only what brings you a little comfort or peace. This isn't the time to be a people pleaser! It may be a good idea to step back from social media and to say no to seeing people if that's going to make you feel worse than you already do.  

Winter walks somewhere new, or a creative project, if that's your thing, might provide a little respite. And there is nothing wrong with hiding under a blanket with a novel or a (non Christmas-y) film, a hot chocolate or some cake - take any small pleasures where you can.

Say their name, share memories, tell stories about them, laugh if you can - but only if any of that helps you.

Last December I wrote a blog post called 'How to Cope with Grief at Christmas' which you might find helpful. You can find it here.

I talk about having a belief that your bond continues beyond physical death in my book 'Love Untethered'  and I find this particularly helps me at this time of year. 

Love Untethered book

Early in grief, when the celebrations that were going on around me suddenly felt so alien, I sought refuge in books that reflected how I was feeling and provided a glimmer of encouragement that I could survive. So now my hope is that reading 'Love Untethered' might do the same for others.

Recent reviews for 'Love Untethered':

"This is the best book I have ever read on the loss of a child. My daughter died in November 2021 and I read this 18 months later. I have read numerous books to help me understand my grief but this is most validating and accurate. It is the book I often revisit."

"After your child dies, especially if it was sudden, you are launched onto another planet. Separate from the world you used to know and, even if surrounded by loving people, utterly alone in your absolute devastation. Thankfully, grieving parents around the world now have Vanessa May with us on this journey. Love Untethered offers a beautifully unflinching account of her experience after the death of her son Harry, reflecting and validating over and over the experience so many of us share. If you are a grieving parent or know and care for one, Love Untethered is a must."

If you've kindly taken the time to write an Amazon review, then thank you so much - I can't tell you how much I appreciate this. If you haven't yet, then would you help me reach more of us who have experienced loss? You don't need to have purchased the book from Amazon to leave a review, you can remain anonymous if you prefer, and if you'd rather not write anything then you could perhaps just leave a star rating.

Grief Coaching with me in 2024

As a holistic grief coach and certified grief educator, I offer sessions that look at how grief can affect mind, body and spirit.

So if you'd like some grief support in the new year from someone who really 'gets it', then please contact me to find out how I could help.

For further details about what I offer: bereavement support

Wishing you a peaceful Christmas x

Vanessa May author

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