“It is OK to feel the way you do” Sue Ryder Counsellor Shane's advice for grieving at Christmas

Shane Smith, Counsellor for Sue Ryder’s Online Bereavement Counselling service, offers his advice for grieving at Christmas and provides suggestions for those struggling after a bereavement who might be concerned about being with others or how they might feel at this time of year.

A lady by a window, alone in her house at Christmas

If you have been bereaved and are concerned about the festive period, it can be a good idea to think about how you would like to spend Christmas and have open conversations with those close to you.

Whilst there is no ‘blueprint’ or ‘map’ for coping with grief, it can help to talk about how you are feeling and what your intentions are for the Christmas period. 

“It can help to talk about how you are feeling and what your intentions are for the Christmas period”

These conversations could help to negotiate a useful plan. Topics that might be helpful to consider include; how will you divide up your time? How will you allow room to spend time with others and time alone? Perhaps a balance between being alone and in company is needed?

It can also be helpful to find ways to let others know that you are okay.  Often, people can worry about you, but really you may just want some space.  Perhaps you could let people know that at certain times of the day you are going to spend some time alone or you could message them to say that you’re going to take some time to yourself.

A woman holding her head in her hand, sitting at a table with her eyes closed.

“It is OK to feel the way you do, no matter what you are feeling”

It is important to remember that it is OK to feel the way you do, no matter what you are feeling.  This could be a mixture of emotions that range from sadness to joy.

At the same time, be mindful that emotions take up our energy. Be kind to yourself and try not to ‘over-do’ things.  It’s important to take time out and think about what will help you get through the day.

“Christmas and New Year are often associated with tradition or doing those things that ‘we’ always do together”

Christmas and New Year are often associated with tradition or doing those things that ‘we’ always do together.  This can be a difficult and upsetting time, especially when ‘we’ aren’t able to do these things.

It may be helpful to consider these traditions and what they mean for you and those around you. Maybe you will want to keep to traditions or maybe there is room to make new traditions or consider alternative ways of spending time over Christmas.

A user on a tablet accessing the online bereavement support from home

Online bereavement support

Sue Ryder provide a range of online bereavement support, including free video counselling, an online community offering 24-hour peer to peer support plus advice and resources for people who are grieving or supporting someone through bereavement.

Shane Smith, a Sue Ryder Online Bereavement Counsellor

Online Bereavement Counsellor

Shane Smith

Shane is a counsellor with experience working in the areas of loss and grief. He offers an accepting space which allows people to explore the thoughts and feelings which surround their loss. He is an accredited member of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP).