Navigating the Holiday Season

Wednesday, 14 December 2022

The holiday season can be a difficult time to navigate if you’ve lost someone, and especially complicated if this is your first Christmas without them.

Your first Christmas without your loved one will feel completely different. Decorating the Christmas tree, pulling crackers together, exchanging gifts: all the little family rituals of the season can stir up bittersweet memories. In your quest of finding a new normal during the holiday season, it may feel impossible to even think about celebrating, but keeping up with some old traditions and implementing new ones will help you through tough times.

Everyone grieves differently, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to coping with grief at Christmas. Take what you need from the tips below and leave anything that doesn’t speak to you.

There are many ways of honouring your loved one during the holidays. Even though they are not physically here, you are still carrying them in your heart.

Plant a Tree or Flower in their Honour

If your loved one had a particular type of flower or tree they loved, planting one in your garden is a lovely way to honour them at Christmas time. Otherwise, we recommend choosing one of the beautiful native trees that will flower during the holiday season, such as Christmas bells, the Christmas orchid, or the traditional native Eucalypts. Every year, when you see their blooms coming to life, you’ll enjoy the loving memory of your family member.

Remembrance Wreaths and Ornaments

Making decorations for your home and Christmas tree is a great way to remember your loved one during the holiday season. This is also a fantastic way to involve younger family members and help them to remember your loved one at Christmas. The whole family can work together to choose flowers, ribbons, branches, and decorations to create a memorial wreath for your loved one. Or spend an afternoon at the craft table making ornaments for your Christmas tree to signify the memory of those no longer with us. You can use words of memory, laminated photos, or simply their favourite colour – whatever makes the ornament unique to your loved one.

Celebrate their Rituals

Rather than avoiding rituals that bring back memories of the departed, make a point to celebrate them. Did your mum always take the role of placing the star atop the Christmas tree? Make this part of your Christmas tree set-up a special moment to acknowledge and remember her. Did Dad have a specific Christmas beverage over Christmas lunch? Make a special point of gathering the family and toasting to his memory. By choosing to celebrate these moments, we feel closer and more connected to the memory of our loved ones that have passed.

We understand spending Christmas without your loved one can be hard. But, over time, the day can take on new meaning, as a way to honour them and celebrate the happiness you shared with them. Remember to go easy on yourself, and to look after yourself. There is no right or wrong way to get through the day.