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Your first Christmas without someone you love – Part 1: Deck the halls with expectations

The lights are up in the city. The Christmas countdown has begun. Presents to buy, cards to write, parties to attend, Christmas trees to put up. Time to start drinking mulled wine and listening to Christmas carols (my favorite is Oh Holy Night). It’s time for you to get ready for the best part of the year. Right?

Well maybe not for everybody. If this is your first Christmas since someone you love has died you might not be feeling all that excited about it. You may be downright dreading it.

For part 1 let’s talk about one specific thing. Expectations.

This can be a really tough time of year for you if someone you love died since last Christmas. You will be getting ready to face your first Christmas without them. You might be thinking it’s going to be terrible and your (and your family’s) worst Christmas ever. Or you might be worried that it doesn’t feel too bad….and maybe Christmas day will actually be ok….and feel guilty about that. (This isn’t uncommon).

Don’t set your expectations about what the day may hold. Or set them that it could hold anything. Because if you think ahead of time that it’s going to be the worst day ever, and dread it all month, you set yourself up to experience exactly such a day….even if that wasn’t what was going to happen.

Maybe the day will be awful. Maybe it will just be a bit difficult. Maybe it will be ok. Maybe it will be great. Maybe you’ll actually enjoy yourself and your family will create a lovely day together with some different traditions.

You don’t know what it might look like so don’t plan ahead that the worst will happen.

Your expectations have a lot of power and if you have already decided it will be an awful day (and that it ‘should’ be) then guess what…this probably guarantees this experience. Don’t put ‘the worst Christmas ever’ on your Christmas list.

And if you are thinking that it should be bad or has to be bad, almost out of respect for your person who has died, then ask yourself this: what type of Christmas would they want you to be having? Not to say you snap your fingers and go ‘well then, Christmas will be awesome’.

But if you were thinking that it would be wrong to enjoy Christmas then have a little re-think, because they wouldn’t want you creating an awful Christmas out of respect for them. They wouldn’t want to be responsible for that. Would you want the people left behind when you die one day to have the worst Christmas ever as a sign of respect for you?

If others are telling you how bad their Christmas was after someone they loved had died and how bad yours will be then just nod and smile…but don’t take it on board. Your experience might not be the same as theirs. In fact that’s usually one thing you can guarantee – that your experience will never look exactly the same as someone else’s. It might be totally different.

Be open to the idea that it might be a bad day OR a good day. That there might be bad bits AND good bits. That you might be missing them and at the same time enjoying the company of other loved ones in a different way. It will be different is all you can be sure of. Some bits might be bad-different, some good-different, and some just different-different.

The next blog will suggest some tips for you about how to make the day a bit easier and how better to include your person who has died in it. But it’s important to start here, with the foundations, with your expectations. They set the stage for your experience. So, if you can, catch yourself when you hear the worst in your thoughts or words, and consider ‘maybe, just maybe, it won’t be like that’.

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