Dealing with grief at Christmas is especially difficult. It’s the empty chair at the Christmas table that breaks your heart…

The recent death of two lovely men, who brought such kindness, care and professionalism to my community, has set me thinking about all the people who will face this Christmas this year without a loved one. Christmas is supposed to be about joy and happiness, but for millions of people, it is simply the saddest time of the year.

Clients who have lost someone dear, often come to me and ask, ‘How long should I grieve?’ ‘Surely I should be over the pain by now?’ But I tell them that grief is a personal journey. It takes as long as it takes. There is no rushing it.

If grief is not dealt with it, can take a toll on your soul for years

I know for certain that a person will have to experience a whole year without their loved one – every season, every high day, holiday and birthday – before they can even begin to work out what is next for them emotionally. And sometimes, if the grief has not been processed, then it can take its toll on your soul for years to come.

Ten years after my dad had died, I was still in an emotional mess whenever I thought about him. It was the first time I ever went to a counsellor. I learned to let the pain come and the healing begin.

Talking about a loved one you have lost really helps, especially in this society where people aren’t encouraged to share their pain with others, for fear of embarrassment or awkwardness. We are not good at talking about death in modern life, yet it is as natural a human condition as life itself.

Holding many emotions about one person

When I am helping clients with bereavement counselling, I give them time and space to talk about their feelings. I listen carefully as they express and explore the loss. Sometimes the feelings that come up are complex and I explain that you can hold many different emotions about one person. You loved them for this – but really did not appreciate it when they did that! They were only human, with all human frailties.

There are many stages to grief and often you have to go through some of the stages a few times before you find peace. Christmas can make that struggle to cope even harder. But don’t feel guilty. Talk to someone, share the memories, soothe the pain. My dad loved Christmas and the memories we created and shared will be with me this festive season. Merry Christmas dad.

If you would like to talk about the loss of a loved one, please call or message me on 07879 297714 or email me on