Shetland Bereavement Support Scheme   Shetland Bereavement Support Scheme
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Coping with bereavement at Christmas


Christmas is a particularly difficult time for those who are bereaved. Maybe you’ve lost a child, partner, or another loved one, and you wish you could cancel Christmas this year.

Here are some suggestions to support you through Christmas. They’ve been written by Care for the Family’s Bereaved Parents’ Network telephone befrienders to support those who have lost a child.

  • The anticipation of the day will probably be much worse than the day itself.
  • Take a flask of soup and some sandwiches and go walking on Christmas Day.
  • Be prepared to weep as you get out the decorations. Set aside a time to do this as a family or on your own.
  • Make a Christmas wreath in holly and berries especially for your child, perhaps in the shape of their initial – you could place it on their grave.
  • Accept any offers of help and don’t feel like a failure for doing so.
  • For the first empty Christmas, don’t try to recreate the old rituals. Do something completely different. If possible, get away somewhere and begin to create some new special memories. Even if it’s a disaster, it will be a different sort of disaster!
  • Try to find very good friends to spend time with, where you can really be safe and you can all cry, laugh or whatever.
  • Try to spend at least a short time, just as a family, to allow each person to remember or share something about how they feel. Be careful not to spend too much time on this as it may be too heavy.
  • Light a special candle for your child on Christmas Day and other special days.
  • Avoid the shops as much as possible – it can make Christmas feel more empty and shallow than it already feels.
  • We wrote to everyone a while before Christmas that first year when our son died, to tell them about his death, how we were doing and explaining that we wouldn’t be sending Christmas cards as it was too hard to miss out his name.  We asked that they still send us cards as we wanted to hear from them.
  • Make your own Christmas cards that say what you want to say and so don’t seem trite and tinselly. You can add a kiss from each member of the family, even though you wish you could write each person’s name.
  • You may prefer not to send any post at all.
  • Don’t be pressurised into feeling you have to do anything – remember you only have to do as much as you want to do. You may well be stronger to think about other people next year.

More information on the above can be found at

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