While the festive period is often hailed as ‘The Most Wonderful Time of the Year’, this is seldom the case for those who are grieving. With most people celebrating love, togetherness and family, you may be missing that special family member and companion who is no longer by your side with all your heart.
This may be your first Christmas without your pet or several years may have passed since they crossed the Rainbow Bridge. Either way, you are perfectly entitled to feel whatever you are feeling. There is no time limit on grief and it’s important to acknowledge how you are feeling. Are you dreading the holidays? Are you using this as a time for reflection? Do you feel able to draw on past Christmas memories for comfort or do you find it upsetting?
And the most important question… What can you do about it?
- Pretending to be fine and over your feelings of grief can be utterly exhausting. Putting on a brave face and bottling your feelings up is not helpful so acknowledge how you are feeling, have a good cry if you want to and rest.
- Spend time with people who nourish your soul and bring you joy.
- Be kind to yourself and practice self-compassion.
- Memorialise your pet by lighting a candle for them and taking a moment to reflect. You could write a letter to your pet telling them how you feel at this time. Or perhaps hang a personalised bauble on your tree.
- Get the feel-good factor by making a donation to an animal or conservation charity in your pet’s name.
- Take a nice long walk and feel your pet’s energy with you.
- You may feel like you don’t want to participate in all the ’forced fun’. It’s ok to set boundaries and say ‘no’ if you don’t feel like the happiest elf at the party. You don’t even have to go to the party, or you can leave any time you want to. If you don’t feel like entertaining, don’t. If you don’t feel like writing and sending cards, don’t. If you don’t feel like battling the crowds to do the Christmas shopping, don’t. Christmas is not compulsory, and you are not obliged to celebrate if you don’t feel like it. Simply spending the day how you want and on your own terms is completely fine. Give yourself permission to spend the day in a way that feels good for you.
- If you are feeling lonely, you could spend Christmas Day volunteering or spend the day with someone else who is also feeling alone, isolated or those who are also grieving.
- If you feel like you are overwhelmed, not coping and have nobody to talk to at this time, please seek support from a counsellor.
- If you know someone who is struggling with their grief, you could buy them a thoughtful & practical gift such as a gift voucher for my counselling service or a copy of my book ‘How To recover From Pet Loss’.