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Coping with grief and loss at Christmas

Coping with grief and loss at Christmas

Christmas can be an especially tough time for anyone facing change, loss and grief. This year in particular there have been concerns expressed about the number of children experiencing poverty or emotional distress, who are asking Santa for basic necessities or happier families, rather than the usual requests for toys.

Christmas is a time when there can be reminders of how things have changed and of the people, places or events that are missed. Skylight, as a charitable trust who support those going through change, grief, loss and trauma, have put together some tips to help those going through difficult times over Christmas.

Here is some of our key advice:

Keep in touch with family and friends: Contact others when you need company, distraction or support. Often those who care about you are grateful to help. If you don’t have friends or family close by, community agencies that can provide support can be found at the front of your phone book or through your local Citizen’s Advice Bureau.

Make time to do things you enjoy: Before the holidays plan and make time to do some things that you really enjoy, or that relax you. It needn’t be anything costly or complex. Scale back on stressful activities.

Mark your change or loss: This positive action may help because it acknowledges how things are for you. You could light a candle, visit a special place, plant a tree, have a small ceremony or prayer, play special music, or make a holiday toast.

It's OK to enjoy yourself: Some people worry that enjoying the holidays is disrespectful, or makes them look like they’ve stopped caring about what’s happened. In fact, pushing all joy from your life isn’t a positive step. Celebrate life as that’s what people who care about you would want you to do.

It’s OK to say ‘No’: You don’t need to do things that might make you uncomfortable just because you think they are expected of you. Give yourself permission to say “No”.

Seek professional help if you need to: If you feel overwhelmed by your emotions, or if you’re having extreme reactions that are frightening you, contact your GP or practice nurse, a counsellor, your local mental health team, a local family support agency or a telephone help line, such as Lifeline, Samaritans or Youthline. Skylight can also offer person-centered grief counselling for people of all ages. Our offices re-open on 6 January 2014.

Access some helpful resources: Our popular support centre offers a wide range of specialist information and personalised support materials to people everywhere in New Zealand. Skylight's website at features an extensive list of resources.

It’s normal to have many mixed emotions during the holidays, particularly when going through grief, stress or change. This is a time to make sure you care for yourself – eat well, drink water, get some exercise, get enough sleep and rest.

Holidays and special times do present unique challenges for those experiencing tough times. Skylight is here to help, because grief happens and support matters.

Contact us on 0800 299 100 (from 6 January 2014), email or visit if you’d like our support.


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