Twelve ways to cope at Christmas following a bereavement

22nd December 2021

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St Barnabas Hospice has put together a helpful guide for those coping with a bereavement this Christmas.

Local charity, St Barnabas Hospice, knows that Christmas can be an especially difficult time for those going through a bereavement. Whether this is your first Christmas after a bereavement, or you were bereaved some time ago, the Hospice has provided twelve helpful ways to cope this year.

Mandy Irons, Head of Wellbeing at St Barnabas Hospice, said: “We understand how painful this time of year can be and would like to share our tips for coping with bereavement at Christmas. We provide free, local support throughout the year for all adults in the community who may be struggling with a bereavement, regardless of whether they have accessed our services or not.

“Many people tell us they find some relief from attending our bereavement groups, through talking to other people who are grieving and sharing their feelings in a safe place. As well as bereavement groups, we are also able to support people through one-to-one counselling and follow-on friendship groups.”

The St Barnabas Hospice ten tips for coping with bereavement at Christmas are:

  1. Give yourself permission to cry or be emotional – it’s ok to show your feelings.
  2. Include the person in some way – perhaps light a candle or raise a toast. Visit to dedicate a light in memory of a loved one on their Tree of Life. They will send you a handwritten, personalised card and silver star tree decoration so you can include your loved one in Christmas celebrations and memories.
  3. Acknowledge that the holidays will be different, and they may be tough.
  4. Decide which traditions you want to keep and which you want to change. Think about creating a new tradition in memory of your loved one.
  5. Be honest. Tell people what you DO want to do and what you DON’T want to do and spend time with people who support you with this.
  6. Decide where you want to spend Christmas. Remember that the way others will want to spend the holiday may not match how you want to spend it. We all grieve differently and that’s ok.
  7. Don’t feel guilty: about declining invitations or skipping events, it may just feel too much; If you have not sent cards this year, writing a card without a loved one can be difficult; If you skip or minimise the decorations.
  8. Ignore the people that tell you what you “should” be doing. Listen to yourself, trust yourself, communicate with your family and do what feels right for you.
  9. Practice self care: Watch your food intake, food can make you feel better in the short term but don’t allow it to become your Christmas comfort; Alcohol can heighten emotions and may raise anxiety levels so be careful how much you consume; Go for a walk; Take time out to yourself if you need too.
  10. Ask for and accept help.  There will be people who want to help and may offer their support.  Take them up on their offers. If people aren’t offering, ask. It can be a relief for you and the person who you have asked for help.
  11. Enjoy yourself! The holidays will be tough, but there will also be love and joy.
  12. Remember, it is okay to be happy – this doesn’t diminish how much you love and miss the person who isn’t there this Christmas. Don’t feel guilty for the joy you do find this holiday season.


The St Barnabas Hospice Wellbeing team are here to provide free support to people coping with a bereavement across Lincolnshire, regardless of whether their loved one received hospice care or not. To refer yourself to this service, call 0300 020 0694. For this Christmas period, this line is open Friday 24th December, Wednesday 29th December, Thursday 30th December, Friday 31st December and Tuesday 4th January, 11am – 3pm.


If you are in need of bereavement support outside of those hours, please use these services:

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