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Coping with Loss During the Holidays

Holidays are a time of togetherness and hopefully joy not the loss of a loved one. Coping with loss during the holidays is the last thing you would expect.

We’re all familiar with the seven stages of grief. They manifest in overwhelming feelings of sadness, lots of tears, disturbed or lost sleep and a loss of appetite. They’re are the opposite of what we would have expected to experience on our holidays.

Grief is not prescriptive. You can’t determine what you are going to feel or when you will feel it. You may feel debilitated and unable to function one day, then guilty, angry and sad the next. The feelings intersect and confuse.

For many people and families, holidays are rituals. Especially on occasions like Christmas and New Year. Because it’s such a significant time for family, grief at Christmas is especially painful. You may meet with the same people in the same way every year and your loved one was a major part of those rituals.

It may be at short notice and it may seem like a trivial gesture, but starting a new tradition can help. Life will never be the same but it will at some stage go on. But that takes time, trying to deal with all of those memories so soon after a loss is not realistic. Change what you do. If you had a big dinner at home then go out instead, or go to somebody else’s home. If you really can’t face it then don’t go anywhere. Give yourself permission to do what you need to do as part of your grieving.

If it feels ok for you to do it, then continue on and doing something significant to acknowledge the absence of your loved one. Some words of remembrance or a lit candle in their honour perhaps? That may feel ok at that stage but not so appropriate later on. You will be guided by the grief process and your ability to cope. Unfortunately, you can’t decide how long it will take for you to stop grieving nor can you predict what you may feel about something further down the track. Remember to have people close by – if you need to change your plans they can support you and take you somewhere that may alleviate the overwhelming feelings of loss.

Hopefully you will have people around you who have an understanding of what you are feeling and the depth of the feelings. Not everybody has experienced acute feelings of grief, they may struggle to comprehend its unpredictability. It’s important that you can express those feelings of loss and your needs.

Most importantly, give yourself time and be easy on yourself. You will need a lot of support if you have to organise a funeral and a burial service or cremation. Southern Cross Funeral Directors are dedicated to supporting you at this very difficult time. Please don’t hesitate to call our staff if we can be of assistance:

Sydney Central: 9529 6644

Macarthur: 4628 3025

Central Coast: 4397 2120

Greater West: 9632 3900