Julie-Ann Cloherty: Dealing with grief at Christmas

Julie-Ann Cloherty: Dealing with grief at Christmas

As Share launches its “Dealing with grief at Christmas” webinar, Julie-Ann Cloherty, Share’s ‘earning and development officer, gives her perspective on why it is so important to recognise that it may not be merry and bright for everyone every festive season

I love Christmastime, it is more than just one day, it is a festive season, people gather and celebrate, and everyone is just that little bit jollier, with or without a mug of mulled wine! It is my favourite time of year.

But I remember vividly being in a shopping centre nine years ago, the Christmas tunes were playing, the decorations were up, and shoppers were buzzing around as they got through their lists. As the jolly shop assistant in his Christmas tie packed my bag, he asked if it was for something nice, and I did not have the heart to burst his festive bubble and tell him that the clothes were for my husband’s funeral. I just wanted out of there, the songs which I would usually hum along to became some sort of taunt as I tried to escape through all the happy shoppers. Dealing with grief at a time when so much of the world seems so extra happy can be especially difficult, it is usually a time for making memories and when you would perhaps have made memories or carried on traditions with the person you are now grieving.

To move from the joviality of Christmas into the reflectiveness and newness of a New Year can be a double whammy for the bereaved and especially those experiencing it for the first time.

In looking back at those early years now, I am forever grateful for the people around me that were brave enough to ask how I was doing, and know that the answer would not be fine, who would acknowledge the burden that grieving puts on the bereaved and offered much practical assistance, but most importantly their presence.

It can be quite baffling that in this digital social age where we can give voice to so many thoughts and opinions, that grief and death can remain taboo subjects, which people avoid as though it is like a virus that can be caught, which serves only to further isolate those who are bereaved.

Chances are you will know someone who is experiencing Christmas without a loved one, you may work alongside them, they may be one of your tenants or customers, and if so, check in with them this Christmas, ask them how they really are doing, acknowledge their loss, don’t fret about it coming out wrong or making them upset by asking – in actual fact they will most likely be very grateful for your acknowledgement of all they are going through”.

Share’s Dealing with Grief at Christmas webinar takes place from 11am to 12pm on Wednesday 13th December. For further information please click here.

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