Thank you to Becca Worthington for this really honest and useful blog for those who are worried about Christmas following a bereavement. Becca’s husband died not long after they were married. Their son was just 4 months old.
Since my husband died 6 years ago, Christmas has been tough to manage emotionally.
The first couple of years I felt sad, lonely, angry, drained and tired, forcing a smile and laugh for the sake of my son (Oliver) but actually just wanting to sleep or drink until the day was over.
I started to think about me
The best thing I started to do each year was to put a bit of effort into me and what would make me feel some of the Christmas joy again and then voice that to friends and family. Instead of waiting for someone else to ask which didn’t always happen, as it turns out, they were waiting for me to ask!!!
I chose to take some time before the Christmas holidays began, to reflect on what I would like Christmas to look like for Oliver and I. What I felt I had the energy to do, if I needed some alone time and where I would feel most comfortable and happy.
Prioritising myself helped everyone who wanted to help me….
Putting myself first wasn’t easy but it also wasn’t a selfish act. It was one to make sure I could cope emotionally, even enjoy and share with others some of Christmas again, plus make sure I had enough energy to genuinely be a fun Mum and give my son what he needed too. It also meant I could tell people what we were doing and even ask them if we could come over at some point.
I gave them days and times, even suggestions of a meal or walk or whatever it is I would like to do. This way I felt I was in control of my needs and I could manage my emotions. I gave myself time to grieve, time to be happy, time to look after myself and not end the holidays feeling drained and overwhelmed.
Although I wasn’t alone, I have mainly been the only adult in the house over Christmas (Oliver was 4 months old when my husband died), and even when people were around, loneliness and sadness were in full flow. Putting myself first and finding the strength to step out and try to enjoy myself, with or without other people will NEVER be something I regret. The times I didn’t do it are the ones I do regret.