How can we cope with Christmas after his death?
Our relationships counsellor answers your problems: How can we cope with Christmas after his death?
Q My husband died four weeks ago. He was only 50 and it was a very sudden death. I’m struggling to come to terms with it. Our children are only 12 and ten and we are all devastated by what’s happened. He wasn’t supposed to die this soon. Now we have to face Christmas without him, and I feel completely unprepared.
My husband and I used to make it a really special day for the children and I still want it to be fun, but I don’t even know if that is possible. My emotions are all over the place and I can’t pull myself together enough to plan anything or buy presents. My sister has been brilliant and offered to help in whatever way she can.
An anonymous woman revealed that her husband died four weeks ago at the age of 50. It was a sudden death and sh is struggling to come to terms with it. She asks for guidance for coping with Christmas
She wants us to spend Christmas with her family, but will seeing them all together just make my children realise how much they miss their dad? It’s also going to be tight financially without his income, and that is a huge worry. I feel so torn in all directions and I don’t know what to do.
A I am so deeply sorry for your loss, and I know that everyone who reads this will be too. This has been such a shock for you and I am not surprised that your emotions are all at sea. I do understand that seeing your sister’s happy family at Christmas would perhaps emphasise the loss felt by you and your children.
However, I think that it might be worse if the three of you were on your own – distraction and being surrounded by the love of others usually helps the most. It will also remove the burden of planning and organising, which I think would be too much for you at the moment.
When people are grieving, it is important to know that it is normal to have fluctuating emotions. This can be particularly true of children – one minute they might be crying and the next they could be laughing with their friends. Sometimes they are angry, too.
So talk to them about going to your sister’s for Christmas and explain that you really hope the day will be fun for them but that they might feel very sad some of the time. Explain that it is OK to feel all of this and that if they find they need time alone, that is all right, too.
Your sister sounds lovely so I am sure she will understand what you all need. In the coming weeks, it is really important to get help for both yourself and your children to talk about your feelings.
Winstonswish.org specialises in helping bereaved children. Please also contact mariecurie.org.uk for both emotional support for you and practical information on your finances after a death. You may be able to claim Bereavement Support Payments, for instance. Marie Curie’s free information and support line (0800 090 2309) is even open for a few hours on Christmas Day and throughout the festive season.
I’m worried about my friend’s drinking
Q A great friend of mine is drinking too much. We’ve known each other since university, where most of our group drank excessively, but the ones with whom I’ve kept in touch have since grown up, had kids and now only drink socially. We’re all in our early 50s.
My friend and her husband moved away about eight years ago for her work. They don’t have children and she’s always been a career woman, though her job is stressful.
Recently, my husband and I went to stay for a weekend and were quite shocked at how she was knocking back the wine. She wasn’t rolling drunk, but it was obviously a regular occurrence.
I could see her husband wasn’t happy and I know there are problems in the marriage. Normally, I can talk to her about anything but I’m not sure how to tackle this issue.
A While some might say it isn’t your place to intervene, you love her and are concerned, so I think you can. Be honest but gentle.
Call her (perhaps early in the day before any drinking), establish that she is alone, and say that it was lovely to see her but that you could see she was stressed. Ask if she thinks she might be turning to alcohol as a way of coping.
Explain that you are worried because she seems unhappy, but say drinking will only make her feel worse. You go back a long way, so I’m sure she’ll appreciate that your concerns are well meant.
Once you have opened the conversation, ask if she would consider seeking help for her unhappiness. It is not easy from a distance but you could support her to see her GP or think about counselling. If she tackles the unhappiness it will hopefully stop this tipping into alcoholism.
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