How To Help Loved Ones Who Find Christmas Difficult
For the majority of people Christmas is a great time of year - the food, the drink, presents, shopping, family and cheesy music. It holds memories of excitement and joy from childhood, or unfortunate hangovers for adults. And for many it has the joy of seeing a child truly experience Christmas with the magic of Santa being real. But for a lot of people Christmas holds some sadder memories, and it’s helping your unhappy loved ones this festive season that I want to focus on today.
An unhappy Christmas doesn’t cross your mind until you’re faced with it. It can take many forms - losing a loved one, horrible family experiences, or dealing with a lack of money. All of these things and more can make this time of year a never ending reminder of bad times. But I really want us to all to try and help if if our unhappy friends will let us. Here are my suggestions for a better Christmas for everyone we love.
Ask them What they Want
This is my first point because if they don’t want you to do anything, then you should do just that. Find out what they need to feel better rather than guessing. Even the act of asking can have meaning. It can be a bit intimidating to face their unhappiness face on, but it’s the first and most important step.
Don’t Pester Them About their Mood
They’re probably being called a Scrooge or hearing cries of “bah, humbug!” all over the place, so don’t add to it. Being pointed out for emotions contrary to those popular is already alienating and I don’t know why humans haven’t figured out that it doesn’t help.
Ask what’s wrong and offer comfort or company if they want it. Don’t force them to spend time with you, just offer it.
Change Up The Situation
Asking will help you with this one. Knowing the cause of an unhappy friend can help you find a way to help. For example, my other half used to spend a lot of Christmas Day going to-and-fro between relatives, not having a chance to relax and enjoy himself. We came to the decision that would only travel to one place on Christmas Day, and we always agree beforehand. It’s a small arrangement but he’s happier, so I am too.
It might be that staying home and not seeing anyone is the problem, or that engaging in anything festive is a trigger. Whatever the instigator, you can an opposite.
Don’t Be Afraid To Remember
Losing people around Christmas time is one of the hardest things for anyone to deal with. And for that memory to resurface so strongly every year must be hard. In these situations, remembering is important. Making a small ritual that celebrates the person is a good way to start linking some happier memories to the loss.
I wrote about a bauble that Chris’ Nana chose that we put on our tree. It’s a moment of reflection every time and I recall taking her to M&S and her “grabby little hands” (Chris’ words) if she saw something she wanted to look at as we pushed the wheelchair around. It’s a good memory even if there’s sadness as well.
Just Be There
Sometimes, you don’t have to do anything. Sometimes, them knowing that you’re there is enough.