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Christmas without a dearly loved one beside you can be unbearably lonely. It also brings up a host of other emotions too. Here we explore this in more depth and also how you can adapt and cope to suit the circumstances.


Anyone who has a close relationship with another human can find anniversaries difficult but the festival of Christmas seems to be more poignant than most. Maybe it is because it is a time of connection and time spent being with others. In fact, it is often the ONLY time of the year when we spend a significant amount of time with other people who we love and care for deeply. It is also a long period of time, not actually restricted to just “one day”.

It can also highlight not only the loss when that person isn’t present, and the rituals / habits that form over years, but also it accentuates the experience of profound loneliness too.

Human nature automatically decides that something is “wrong” when someone has died. True – their passing may have been much too early – due to an accident or acute disease – but most of us have it that our family and friends will “go on forever”. The denial that dying takes place and is natural takes over.

Interestingly, when someone lies to themselves like this about an unassailable truth – in this case: we will all die – and doesn’t take it on board fully – they immediately isolate themselves from the rest of their life and society. I am not saying that they are trying to lie to themselves (or others) but the result is often the same.


When its a spouse or partner who has gone; or someone who you had a very close relationship with and they are no longer about at Christmas – there are some very clear choices to make about how to manage a day that is highly emotionally charged.

  • Decide to tough it out. Join in as much as possible and try to bear the upset without letting on how much you are hurting.
  • Dissolve into a heap and be incapable of contributing anything to the day, event etc.
  • Complain and get upset that “it shouldn’t be this way” and try to enrol others in the upset and drama that you are feeling.
  • Put on a brave face and go into “martyr-mode” – by taking on masses and keeping the old traditions exactly the same. Then collapse when it all becomes too much.
  • Keep a lid on things until a little detail o comment has all the raw emotion burst out! It could be with weeping, anger, frustration or out-of-place hilarity!
  • Create a team of support for everyone who loved the deceased. Work out ways together to get through the day / season etc. that works for each person. Allow respect and patience and love and understanding to come to the fore.

So which option or options, do you think, if YOU have lost someone, will empower you, help you or make a difference to how you approach and manage the day, and others.?

It’s tempting to go with the last one, isn’t it?…but that may not be right for everyone, or even possible to create if there aren’t others about.


There isn’t a right way – everyone will deal with this differently. You just have to partly make it up on the day (adapt your actions or expectations) depending on how you (and others) feel.

You also could have  some sort of game plan to follow – as a routine – even if its different from the old one – will make it simpler and easier.

Top Tip: Identify what YOU want out of the day

Then see how this could happen….

It is always best to be willing to be adaptable. Not that I didn’t say you had to be…just that this may be a possibility that would help!

If you are on your own – you may wish to seek out company – even if that means volunteering to help others who are less fortunate than yourself.

You may wish to create a very different day altogether – perhaps a calm contemplative retreat or a country walk.

Maybe have a list of resources you can call upon if you need help and extra support. Here are some (in the UK) :

Suicide Prevention Hotline: 0800-273-8255

Veterans Suicide Hotline: 0800-273-8255

Conversely you might want to make sure you have as many people about you as possible – so you can hide and keep busy in amongst the noise and bustle and get through the day that way… almost avoiding the subject that a special person isn’t with you and sharing the experience.

However YOU choose to get through Christmas – I have just one request… Be true to your heart, not your head.

You will find it a difficult day, or moments of the day will be emotional. There is nothing wrong with this. Accept that you are upset or distressed, sad or feeling lonely.

Then create a new possibility of who you could be BEING. e.g. being happy, contented, loving to yourself and others, or whatever.

If nothing feels like it will come naturally – fake it a bit, at least to start with! e.g. smile even if you are sad – move your body and change your posture whilst smiling. This changes your mental state! Keep smiling, or being grateful or whatever your possibility is. At some point – you will start to BE that way in reality!

Now, it doesn’t matter if you have to fake it a bit to start with…just try it.

I wish you the courage to deal with Christmas powerfully, the wisdom to know when you are struggling and the patience to give things a try. I have just got through my first Christmas without either parent…. for what it’s worth – it wasn’t as bad as I thought it may have been. In fact, it was fine. I lived to tell the tale!

Good luck with your own journey and I hope the above helps.


© Great Guidelines for Later Life 2016.All Rights Reserved.




WANT TO USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR E-ZINE, BLOG OR WEB SITE? You can, as long as you include this complete blurb with it:

Gayle Palmer, the creator of Great Guidelines for Later Life - The world’s most thorough, comprehensive and supportive, one-stop resource for all seniors and their families who are ready to get their lives in order before they die AND help them to live out their days having a life they love, clear in the knowledge that they have done everything they need to. She has developed various courses, programmes and workshops for seniors and their families to work through, leaving no stone un-turned.

Gayle’s experience of over 25 years as an Osteopath, treating thousands of people and helping them through similar worries and concerns only strengthens her knowledge and commitment to you too. Her expertise is not only in the physical realm but emotional, mental and spiritual too. All Rights are Reserved.  

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