Grief counsellor reveals how to cope with spending Christmas alone
How to cope with spending Christmas alone: Grief counsellor reveals the strategies to get through it – including journalling to identify trigger points and focusing on what you CAN control
- Lianna Champ has 40 years’ experience in grief and bereavement counselling
- Said that Christmas alone is daunting, but you can change how you feel about it
- Most important first step is harnessing inner ‘determination not to sink’
- Recommneds journalling, identifying a support person and changing habits
Tier 4 rules in London and the South East and advice to reconsider mixing households in the rest of the country means that millions of people face spending Christmas alone this year.
It will come as an especially harsh blow to people already suffering loneliness and isolation after a year of limited contact with loved ones, leading to a sense of grief as people come to terms with the cancellation of much-antipicated reunions.
Grief counsellor Lianna Champ told Femail: ‘Being apart goes against all our instincts and families are yearning to celebrate together, especially at the end of such a dreadful year.
‘The run-up to Christmas can feel totally daunting when you are on your own. With the added burden of the pandemic and uncertainty for the future, the loneliness can feel all-consuming and the days seem to stretch ahead.
‘You may want to run for cover and let Christmas completely pass you by but if you rail against the unfairness, the legacy of family love becomes lost, not only to others, but to you too. You have a duty to yourself and those in your life to keep going.’
Here Lianna reveals coping strategies to help people get through a solo Christmas, saying: ‘We cannot change what is, but we can change how we feel about it.’
Millions of people face spending Christmas alone this year
Harness your determination
Sometimes in our moments of loneliness, we withdraw into our own private place, and our thoughts can go round and round endlessly and it can feel there is no end.
There is an old proverb that says ‘It is the lifted face that feels the shining of the sun”.
• Accept that it may be a challenge for you.
• Reach out to people you love, even if you want to hide under the covers.
• Make it ok not to be ok and if you feel yourself folding, let it be ok to shed some tears.
• Have a Zoom family Christmas quiz
• Share recipes with each other and cook a favourite dish. Take photos and send them.
• Use the Christmas tree to hang a special memento, photo or message.
• Find a lovely quote of the day each day and share it.
• Music is a great way to lift your mood.
• Factor in plenty of FaceTime calls
If we really think about that, it means that we have to make the effort, to find an inner spark, a determination not to sink.
To harness a discipline and force ourselves to make changes and create good habits so that we feel better about ourselves.
Also, an acceptance that we cannot always control events that separate us, like the pandemic. We cannot change what is, but we can change how we feel about it.
Have a go-to person
Have a go-to person who you can lean on when you are really struggling. Sharing how you feel is one of the healthiest things you can do. Find others who are feeling alone too, as it helps to know that we are not completely alone. We have to communicate when we are struggling so we can have our ‘grief’ time. We all need this.
Do things differently
Push the boundaries and do things completely differently this year – for instance, spend the day in your Pjs if you normally dress up. Doing things differently will make us feel different. Make a conscious decision to reset the Christmas spirit button and make this a Christmas you’ll remember for different, positive reasons if you can.
Self care is paramount
Climb into a nice hot bath and relax. A hot bath is really nurturing especially with some aromatherapy bubbles and candles. Why not go for a walk on Christmas morning? Gentle exercise and fresh air is a great way to help lift our mood – even if you have to force yourself, you will feel better afterwards.
Eat and drink well, diet is important in keeping us physically and mentally well, and be wary of short term relievers such as too much alcohol and junk food.
What are the new Tier 4 rules?
The Tier 4 rules will be essentially the same as the blanket lockdown that England was under in November.
Non-essential retail must close, as well as leisure facilities, and personal care such as hairdressers.
However, places of worship can stay open.
People in other Tiers will be advised not to go into the highest bracket areas, while residents of Tier 4 must not stay overnight in lower infection spots.
Embrace the quiet times
Isolation presents an opportunity to slow down, pause and reflect. There is much learning to be had in meditation and quite times. When the pandemic is over, life is likely to return to pre-Covid levels of franticness, so embrace this opportunity to do things more slowly.
Focus on what you can control
As we approach the end of any year, we turn our thoughts to changes we would like to make. Although we now have a vaccine for the virus we cannot tell what 2021 will bring. So, focus on what you can control – make a resolution to tend to yourself emotionally.
Really think about things that make you feel good or perhaps try something you have always wanted to do – maybe a new hobby, painting, singing etc.
Share your feelings
Sharing your feelings with someone you trust and feel safe with is one of the best things you can do. It is a powerful release and can help to reduce some of the weight of your loneliness. Make it your resolution to share, as this helps us to stop isolating ourselves and reconnects us with the people in our lives.
Journalling can be a wonderfully therapeutic activity. Find a lovely notebook and write down your feelings, thoughts, ramblings, whatever – no-one else will read this unless you want them to, so be honest. As human beings our emotions are constantly fluctuating, by writing down our feelings, we may begin to recognise patterns and can then identify times and triggers that we can avoid.
Lianna Champ has over 40 years’ experience in grief and bereavement counselling and is author of practical guide, How to Grieve Like A Champ
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