This Christmas is going to be the fourth without my mum, as she died of cancer in June 2018. Every year as Christmas approaches, I feel a sense of dread that I never did when she was alive. As National Grief Awareness Week (2-8th December 2021) is underway, here are a selection of reasons why we might feel dread.
We feel robbed
As millions of families prepare for a festive season of togetherness, the bereaved might feel left out of that perfect image of a family around the dinner table. We might feel that we have unjustly been deprived of more Christmases with our loved one who died.
Nostalgia and traditions can be overwhelming
There’s a lot of pressure at Christmas to have the time of your life and to have a ‘perfect’ Christmas. Behind the lights and tinsel, bereaved people might be struggling to live up to this. Constant questions and assumptions from well-meaning friends and family can be tough to navigate. We might not want a big roast dinner or to have the tree up for weeks, if at all, and feel unable to communicate our wishes.
We feel ignored
As we head further into December, the bereaved are a group in society that doesn’t often feature on Christmas cards or supermarket adverts. If we are included, then it’s as a way to tug at the heart strings and ultimately get you to spend more money at a big company, rather than supporting us. As photos of Christmas trees spring up all over social media, we can often feel invisible.
We miss our loved one
Quite simply, we wish our loved one was spending Christmas with us. We don’t want to tiptoe around the subject; we don’t want to pretend they never existed. They’re a part of our life story and we want them to be remembered and discussed.
Ultimately, if you have a friend or relative who has experienced a deep and enduring loss in their lives, please treat them kindly and respect their wishes. We just want our grief and our loved one to be seen.