The Other C Words

… Coping at Christmas

We all know the observed religious meaning of Christmas. Others take the opportunity to define what they choose to celebrate at this time of year.

There is an irony in suffering through the Christmas season in which so many others seem to find such happiness in. Christmas day is an upsetting day for many, in particular, for those who are bereaved. Furthermore, the irony, the bereaved can be glad for those that are happy and the happy will often think of those less fortunate at Christmas time.

‘Being Human at its finest.’

When you are bereaved, the day itself can feel like an insurmountable burden. There is the anticipation of Christmas day’s arrival, only then to be waiting for the day to pass. You see, there is no right way to do Christmas, only to try to stay in-tune with your own needs without judging yourself. All you have to do is get through the day or season in a safe way that is comfortable for you.

It is up to you which Christmas events and traditions you can handle. You are not obligated to participate in anything. Create realistic expectations for yourself and perhaps respond to invitations advising you will decide on the day if you feel up to it. If possible, have a friend go with you or on standby for support.

Try to take some gentle exercise everyday, like a walk, this helps boost those much needed endorphins. You may experience both negative and positive feelings during the season while grieving. And that is OK. Remember that all feelings can co-exist. For example, I can miss that person and find joy in an activity at the same time. Everyone travels their own path in grief. Try to accept whatever you are feeling including the inevitable ups and downs heightened by the season.

So, what can you do to ‘cope at Christmas?’ My humble observations as follows; Do what feels right for you (don’t feel obligated nor be coerced). Sometimes you won’t know what you feel like doing until the last minute. You might like to redefine what you celebrate at this time of year. Let people know that you are struggling to cope. Take a walk almost everyday. Don’t forget that you have a smile or the sound of your laugh (and try not to hold onto your breath). If you can, try to avoid social media on the 25th of December.

Be aware that New Year celebrations can also be difficult. The celebrations of others wishing “Happy New Year” can intensify your grief. Try to have a safe plan in place for the evening of the 31st of December and avoid social media. Helplines are open during the festive season with qualified Counsellors, especially perceptive to the context of calls during Christmas. So use this resource if needed.

Above all, be gentle with your bereaved soul on Christmas day. Besides this, if we do something rarely – like once a year… should we really expect to be good at it?

Go Gently All and Stay Safe.

Being Human with you


It has been a privilege to write for the Bulletin and my hope is that it has been of service. I will be praying for my colleagues at TVM to have occasion in their Christmas break that will bring them peace and solacement. To my fellow brigade members at TRFB, on active call 24/7, 365 days, thank you for your dependability and community service, and to Kerri, Editor of the Bulletin; what an outstanding role you undertake and serve within our community. Merry Christmas Kerri, you are deserving for some rest. Merry Christmas All.