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Remembering a loved one in your Christmas celebrations

December 25th can be the toughest day of the year for anyone grieving. It doesn’t matter if you’ve lost a loved one last week, last year or 11 years ago.

Come Christmas, there’s a big aching hole at the table, in the room and in your heart. Because there are so many family traditions woven into everything we do throughout December, we know it can be a really difficult time of year, but ensuring you remember those you’ve loved and lost can really help to treasure their memories.

Get everyone involved on the first Christmas.

The first Christmas without that certain someone is normally the toughest. It’s likely you might be emotional when you wake up and as the day unfolds, every festive act can make memories spiral. It’s tough when the emotions are still so raw but turning this into a positive can really help.

If your mum was the big organiser at Christmas, you may want to remember her when preparing for the day. If your partner always made the mulled wine, you’ll enjoy toasting them as you slurp that first glass. If your dad was the first to kick off charades, you could play it in his honour.

It might not be easy, but by getting everyone together and asking non-blood relatives to take the lead in raising a glass (just in case the lump in your throat is stopping you from saying something, even when you really want to), it’s a chance to remember those who aren’t with us anymore and keep them being a part of your Christmas celebrations.

Share those memories

“Talk about the person you have lost,” says Donna Lancaster, grief counsellor and co-founder of The Bridge Retreat (Link to “Share together all of your happy memories of them from over the years; the funny stories and individual quirks that made them so special to you all. Get out the photos and film clips and celebrate their life. Allow yourselves to laugh and cry together in honour of the love you all shared.”

Celebrate their life as well as Christmas

Create a simple area in the home dedicated to your lost love one. You might want to display photographs and meaningful objects, when the time comes you could add a festive candle to light each morning as a symbol of their presence.

Take on their special activities during the festivities

“Play their favourite Christmas games, sing the festive songs they enjoyed and watch the films that they loved,” suggests Lancaster. “Go for walks together along the route they used to take. Make sure they’re felt through all the many ways you share the festive season together as a family.”

Make a toast

That toast can be very important. If it’s all you can manage to speak out the words, ‘To absent friends’, before you all raise a glass – that will do. It can be hard, but everyone who’s there with you at that precise time knows who you’re thinking of and they can think of them too. If you want to raise money or awareness for charities that are connected, it’s also a good time to pick something to sign up to the following year, so you’re doing something positive in memory of them.

We know that the best way to fight isolation is through face-to-face contact and interaction. We understand this can be a difficult task, which is why prior planning may be beneficial.

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