A Different Kind of Christmas
Written by listed counsellor/psychotherapist: Linda Atkinson. Dip. Couns. Dip. Psych. MBACP.
1st December, 2014
Some of us may be preparing to face our first Christmas without someone that has been a very important part of our lives. It can be a daunting prospect, trying to put on a brave face and engage in the wonder and excitement of the forthcoming festivities, when someone we love will be missing and we are filled with sadness and grief.
Many of us would just rather 'cancel Christmas' feeling it will never be the same again. Of course this is true, how could it be the same when someone who as always been around is no longer here to share this special time of year with us. So we contemplate our future Christmases without them, fearing "I don't know if I can face what that difference may mean for me".
Our feelings can get lost in the expectations that, traditionally Christmas is a joyous occasion, a time to be merry and bright, a time that's special for the children, full of wonderment, fun and laughter. We may feel under pressure to deny or hide our true feelings, so that we do not to spoil things or burden our family and friends with our feelings of sorrow.
Loss is not something that can easily be denied or hidden, our grief needs to be processed (felt through and expressed) so that we can move through to a place of acceptance. Our emotions can be triggered at any time, when we welcome and acknowledge this as a very normal aspect of being human, we are allowing that process to continue quite naturally, interrupting this process can sometimes mean that we become 'stuck' with the feeling. For example, if you feel sad, and choose to deny or hide your sadness, you are choosing to stay with the sadness inside you, where it could grow and consume you, affect your general well being, and lead to unhealthy functioning
If you have lost someone dear to you recently, and you are planning to spend Christmas with family or friends - talk to them in advance about your fears and concerns, so that they are prepared and you may gain their understanding. If they don't understand - it's okay, you are dong this for you. Don't be afraid to set sometime aside to remember your loved one on Christmas day, choose how you might want to do this; lighting a candle, visiting the grave, a special toast, or simply some time alone with your memories, your needs will be very individual. Allow your tears, explaining to any children that you are okay, you are just feeling sad because you are missing the deceased. In doing so you are demonstrating a completely normal aspect of bereavement, where a child will learn to feel it's okay to cry and be sad in times of loss.
These small but special tasks help to keep the spirit of your loved one alive at Christmas. By taking the time to remember them you are acknowledging the part they have played in your lives, the memories of which live on in you heart, and go on with you.
Welcome all of your emotions, even the painful ones, treat them as a gift, allow yourself to unwrap your gift and feel it through. By allowing and valuing everything you experience, you will be able to move to a more comfortable place, a place of honesty, where you are being true to yourself.
About the author
Linda Atkinson, Counsellor/Psychotherapist, currently in private practice in Sidmouth & Dunkeswell, Devon.
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