Palliative Care Queensland

Dealing with grief and loss over Christmas

Coping with Grief and Loss around the Christmas Season

by Jason Dingli, Bereavement Coordinator, Palliative Care Queensland

Christmas time for many is about joy, hope, celebration and spending time with those you love. For others, a special occasion such as Christmas can be an extremely hard journey of grief and loss.

I experienced this wave of grief when my wife and mother of our two boys died 5 years ago. Assembling the Christmas tree, hearing Christmas music wherever I went, being invited to Christmas parties and seeing festive decorations, all meant to bring joy and happiness but instead intensified the feelings of loss and grief. The joy of wrapping presents and seeing our childrens’ delight  was now filled with sadness as my wife was not by my side sharing the laughter, joy and excitement.

As it is for most people experiencing the death of a loved one, Christmas had become the most painful time of all. Escaping these occasions does not heal the pain, it is what you do on these special occasions to embrace your relationship and memories that matter.  Allowing yourself to grieve allows you to heal.

We as a family have a special ritual for Christmas – a decoration in honour of my wife and the boys’ mum – and it is the last decoration that we as a family place on the tree. We also make time on Christmas Day to visit her at the cemetery and always take a Christmas ornament and a Christmas card with messages from us all.  We allow this time to reflect and remember how important this person was in our life and it helps us through this grief and loss journey.

So, while we may pretend the holidays do not exist, temporarily avoiding the pain only prolongs the anguish. The holidays will get easier, allow yourself to experience the grief and anguish on these special occasions and let it be a reminder of the love you shared and will always be a part of your life.

Please contact our Grief and Bereavement team if you have any questions:

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