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Grieving at Christmas: When Santa Isn’t Coming to Town (And That’s Okay)

The days till Christmas are flying by, but not everyone feels the holiday cheer. If you’re grieving, the pressure to be merry can feel overwhelming. Whether you’ve lost someone recently or years ago, grief during the holidays is a reality for many. December’s shortened days can feel even heavier when you’re navigating loss. Remember, it’s okay to not be okay.

Grief Is All Around Us: My Personal Story of Loss During the Holidays

Christmas is difficult for me too because I’ve had many family members die
or be near deaths door around Christmas time.

Something I Need to Share: A Story of Workplace Grief at Christmas

We had a daughter die January 30th, my dad died December 2nd, my mum died on Christmas day and I’m without so many of family members and friends. My sister died and two of my brothers have recently been at deaths door.

So no, Christmas isn’t always something I look forward to celebrating.

Something I need to share with you

This next story is told with the permission of everyone involved.

I was giving a keynote at a company (who will not be named) when a team leader asked if she could speak to me privately, I said of course. She led me to a side room where her team had assembled. When I walked in and looked around, I saw there was not a dry eye in the house. I thought, wow my speech must have really hit home.

The team leader opened up with, “We need your help!” Then each person shared their story of grief.

Here’s a few

Team leader

a close cousin in her early 40’s is being treated for breast cancer, one uncle’s being treated for melanoma and another has been airlifted from a rural area to RPA (Royal Prince Alfred Hospital) . Her favourite aunt died and she’s been evicted just before Christmas.

Team members

One person’s brother died by suicide; another person’s mother has terminal cancer; another person’s parents died; another person’s grandparents died; another had their dog die… and the list goes on.

These are only a few of the stories shared in that room. You get the picture right? .
They were sharing their stories with me because they were told by the office manager that- “They had to brighten their office up with Christmas decorations because moral was low at this is a happy time.”

This team was angry and upset. Angry because they weren’t given an option and upset because management didn’t care enough to ask why the whole team looked sad.

I love what the team leader did next. She’d been given a box of decorations and directed to get the team to decorate the office. She got upset but still told the team they had to do it because management said so, completely oblivious to the fact that several team members were grieving. Then she got angry. She said, “Put everything back in the box, we’re not doing this.” She marched into the manager’s office, slammed the box on his desk, and exclaimed, “We’re not doing this. Not everyone wants to celebrate Christmas!

She’s so right, not everyone is in a Christmassy mood, some people want to do Christmas their way. They might not want to see anybody or see only the family, it’s up to them to decide.

My Message: It’s Okay to Not Be Okay at Christmas

Not everyone wants to celebrate Christmas and they don’t have to if they don’t feel up to it. Be aware that many people are grieving now, especially with the pandemic happening all around the world. Everyone has been impacted, either by watching is on the news or social media, having someone affected by long Covid or dying from Covid or any other disease.

While it was all over the news the message was, “We’re all in this together,” it seems like the grief is too much for some to deal with.

Employers, friends and family

Here’s what you can do:

Be curious, ask them about what’s going on for them sit and listen, don’t offer advice Let them talk about their situation

Be okay with what they want to do, they might just want Christmas to just be another day for now, no different from yesterday.

Most importantly, don’t judge

I hope you found this helpful? Share it with your employer, friends and family.
Hit reply and let me know your thoughts.

If you or someone you know is struggling with grief during the holidays, remember that support is available. Organisations like Beyond Blue offer resources and helplines to help you through difficult times.

Grief at Christmas

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