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Christmas is not all ‘Ho, Ho, Ho’ for everyone

Updated: Dec 6, 2021

By Dr Marianne Trent of Good Thinking Psychological Services

The 1st of December, advent calendar day for many of us. I have two advent calendars, and they are both teas, because that's my bag baby! Someone told me today that advent calendars are like micro dosing Christmas, so I hope that you have your own little micro doses of Christmas if that puts a spring in your step.

But for many of course Christmas can be tricky for a variety of reasons. It might be that they have an anniversary of trauma, it might be that they have an anniversary of death or dying or palliative illness for someone that they love or care about. It might be that they are having a tricky time themselves. I was reminded yesterday in my Facebook memories that four years ago I had two advent calendars on the go. Both nice ones, one was a Number 7 one was a beauty one by M&S, and it said,

"Has a feeling that I'm going to need these two advent calendars to put a spring in my step this Christmas."

Because of course what I knew but wasn't necessarily sharing publicly was that my dad was dying, and he did indeed die on the 20th of December.

And so, it felt like I needed a little bit of extra something to give me the motivation and to plod on really. So for many people Christmas and December can be a challenging time and if you are experiencing that then I'm sending you my solidarity. I certainly find myself thinking about my dad even more when I see Christmas lights. And when the Christmas music comes on, because when I was driving to and from to see him in hospital, it was Christmas music all over the radio. Never did I feel less Christmassy than that Christmas, but with young children it can be incredibly difficult because they are in Christmas mode from about September.

At the time I had a four year old and an eighteen month old, and they wanted to celebrate Christmas. But with my dad dying on the 20th, it wasn't the cheeriest of times for sure. And where I wanted to retreat and just sort of stay under my blanket, the kids were off school and off nursery, and so it was challenging.

Perhaps you know someone who is grieving this Christmas, or who might be struggling with their first Christmas alone, or even subsequent Christmas's alone. It’s difficult if you've been used to spending it with someone that you miss a great deal. So if that reflects you, please know that I'm sending you my warmest wishes. You might find it helpful to check out the Grief Collective book, stories of life, loss and learning to heal. It's a really nice collection of stories written by people who have grieved and who absolutely get what you are experiencing and feeling. And just because people don't mention grief to you or don't mention the thing or the person that you are grieving for doesn't mean that you're thoughts and feelings are not valid. What we know is people often don't want to upset you, especially at Christmas, but the Grief Collective tells us that we know it's okay to ask those question. So, if you're looking to feel part of something, then do check out that book. It's available as an e-book and as a paperback.

For more information on The Grief Collective: Stories of Life, Loss & Learning to Heal or to buy your copy, click here.


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