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Coping with the loss of a loved one at Christmas

05 December 2018

By Gary Vaudin, Argent Funeral Care, Guernsey

This blog post has been adapted from an interview featured in the December issue of GYOne Magazine.

Christmas can be a difficult time if we’ve lost a loved one. Amidst the lights and joy of the season of giving, that feeling of loss can be hard to bear.

At Christmastime you’ll notice our island cemeteries feature an array of flowers. Each cemetery is ablaze with the colours of various wreaths laid by families and friends for their loved ones. It is a special time of year for those wishing to honour the memories of those passed.

Memories are within us, and we must use these memories as a starting point to help us heal. We know a loved one’s ripples of existence continue to influence us after their passing, and the festive season can enhance these memories even more so.

That's why we’ve put together some tips for how to cope with loss:

Carry on traditions

Don’t give up on Christmas without them. Instead, carry on the traditions in their memory. A lovely way to keep your loved ones close is to hang a decoration on the tree engraved with their name. Bake a cake in their memory, or play a game they once loved. Whatever it was, keep alive the traditions that kept you close year after year.

Speak to someone professional

If the pain is too hard to handle and it’s not getting any easier, speak to a bereavement counsellor or a priest. Take comfort in sharing your feelings with someone who has experience in guiding those who’ve lost a family member or friend. 

Talk about your loved one

This is such an important part of healing and accepting. Talk about them around the table. Share memories of your loved ones. Share the worst present they ever bought you, for example, or mull over the nicest thing they ever did for you at Christmas. Talking and sharing memories is a positive and healthy thing to do. As hard as it may seem, it should help. 

Write a card or a poem

Writing is a fantastic form of therapy – put your thoughts on to paper and remind yourself of the good times shared with a loved one, even if it’s a simple Christmas card addressed to them.

Place a tribute with a photograph

Photographs act as a lovely reminder and a little nostalgia once in a while goes a long way for your health. Putting a tribute in the local paper helps keep their memory alive, too.

Light a candle

Light a candle on Christmas Eve before bedtime and, depending on your religious beliefs, say a prayer or read to your beloved deceased. You can buy artificial candles featuring poems or illustrations should you wish to make the act more personal.

Attend a service of remembrance

De Gruchy’s Funeral Care in Jersey are hosting a special Christmas carol service of remembrance this Sunday 9 December – a chance to remember loved ones this Christmas. All are welcome to join us. Find out more about the carol service of remembrance.

If you’d like any help or advice this festive season, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with the team at De Gruchy’s – we’re available 24 hours a day.