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Losing Someone and the Emotions at Christmas

19 December 2017

Karen is part of our Family and Carer Support Team here at the Hospice and she’d like to share some advice with anyone experiencing a loss this Christmas…

Christmas can be a difficult time when someone you loved has died.

There is something about the mixture of emotions and the tradition of Christmas being a happy time that no longer fit. It appears as if the whole world is happy and full of fun and continuing to enjoy that festive feeling.  However, your world has been turned upside down and the effort of wearing your mask to hide these feelings and the pain and distress you are experiencing can feel overwhelming, making you feel like Scrooge wanting to “Bah humbug” everything that Christmas stands for.

How can you control a situation that you can’t do anything about when there is pressure on you from others to deliver a Happy Christmas?  What can you do?

Be prepared

  • Talk to your family and gain a mutual understanding of what each of you may need and compromise over differing needs
  • It is going to be different whatever you do – be truthful with yourself and your expectations
  • Make sure you allow yourself some quiet time where you can be alone if you want to.
  • It can be difficult receiving and giving cards if a name is missing. It is ok to take a year out and not send cards if it feels too painful.

Be flexible

  • Consider if you want to change or celebrate some traditions that may be linked to the person who has died. Maybe ‘Dad’ always carved the turkey at the table.  You may change this by carving it in the kitchen or it could be that someone else in the family takes on this role.
  • Decide for yourself what is doable for you – you may choose to make some big changes or even just decide not to do Christmas at all. Don’t be pressurised into doing things you don’t want to do.  Although well -meaning people will give you advice you don’t have to take it.
  • Give yourself permission to change your mind about what you want to do even at the last minute. You don’t have to attend every party or family gathering if you don’t want to.

If it all becomes too much and you are unable to cope there is support available over the Christmas period…


WAY (Widowed and Young) online support

WAY- UP (Widowed over 50’s) online support


To find out more about our Family and Carer Support Team, please visit