Coping at Christmas when you are Grieving

5th December 2023

“Christmas can be a very stressful time for people. If you’ve had a loss during the year the first Christmas after that death can be very challenging. The question people often ask is ‘how can all this merriment be happening in the midst of loss, how will I cope with this?’ These are the words of South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust’s Bereavement Co-ordinator Paul McCloskey as National Grief Awareness Week is acknowledged from December 2 to 8, with its aim to provide a period for individuals and communities to address the many heart rending aspects of grief.


“Coping at Christmas or indeed at any time of the year can be emotionally difficult,” explained Paul.


“It is important to acknowledge the loss, and understand that in some ways Christmas won’t be the same. Choose the people you want to spend time with, ask for and accept help from those who know you best. Whilst grief is a universal experience people can grieve differently, even within the same family, how we respond to the death of someone close to us can be quite different.”


Over the coming days the Bereavement Outreach Team will be circulating leaflets to public areas across Trust facilities entitled ‘Coping at Christmas When You Are Grieving,’ which includes information and suggestions that might prove helpful to those who have experienced a recent bereavement. “Sadly death doesn’t stop over the Christmas and New Year period, remember the feelings we have in bereavement are a normal, essential response to the death of those close to us,”.


As for the Trust staff who provide care in and around the time of death, they are very aware that competent, compassionate care can impact positively on the bereavement experience of families. “Families often have a super memory for what I call the little big things, the listening ear, the cups of tea, and the hand on the shoulder or literally sometimes the shoulder to cry on. All those things make a huge difference.”


“When we speak to families in the days following the death of a loved one we are often asked by them to thank colleagues who were involved in their care. Knowing that they and their loved one received professional and compassionate care in and around the time of death is a memory that stays with them through their bereavement journey.”