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To absent friends at Christmas

As we approach the end of 2021, James Morris, our Managing Director reflects on this time of year.

Our memories are such a powerful thing, aren’t they?  Every day I do this job, I see how precious every single memory is of someone loved and lost.  One of the most important things to do as we grieve a loss is to cherish, revisit and especially to share memories. To share our memories, to speak about the one we have lost and are missing is both comforting and healthy, whether it brings a smile or a tear to our face.

We all know that anniversaries, birthdays and holidays are rich with memories and consequently they can be particularly hard times. But Christmas, a time we traditionally spend with family, can stir up grief in the most unexpected ways.  It’s a time when some of us relax amongst loved ones and the guard we hold up may fall.  For others, it’s a time of tension and stress fuelling underlying anxiety.

The festive period pitches grief versus celebration.  If this Christmas is the first time you’re without that loved one, it’s going to be new and unfamiliar.  Milestone days that follow in the first year after a loss are often faced with dread and that’s completely normal.

But there are ways in which we can prepare to ensure it doesn’t always catch us off guard.  Toast the loved one who is absent. Share the memories.  Revisit old times.  Cherish the moment.  It’s allowed and in doing so, you take a little more control over your feelings – as well as managing the expectations of those you’re sharing time with.

Something I’ve learned over the years that I feel is a valuable piece of advice to end on, is this: if you are supporting someone facing loss this Christmas, make a point of speaking about their loved one inviting them to talk and share their memories.  Allow them a trip down memory lane and join them on it. Chances are, their loved one is front of their mind so being able to talk and share may mean the world to them, making their journey through the festive season that little bit more bearable and even special in it’s own way.

If you, or someone you know needs help, we can offer access to a UK wide bereavement service to help over 18s struggling to come to terms with the loss of a loved one.  SAIF care is a free and confidential service delivered by professional bereavement counsellors and includes:

  • Helpline support on Freephone 0800 917 7224 which is open 9am-9pm, Monday to Friday.
  • Friendly, supportive helpline staff who are available to offer information, advice and a listening ear.
  • Email support and information at help@saifcare.org.uk.
  • Free online webchat ‘SAIF Care Chat’.

Lean on our experience when you need it the most.