Aloneness with grief at Christmas


aloneness with grief

In our society Christmastime is considered by many as a very important and special time of the year. For some it is because of its religious significance. For many it is the only time of the year they get together with family members and friends. There are societal pressures to celebrate Christmas in particular ways.

However, many people dread Christmastime or, at the very least, find it a big challenge. These include

  • people who are isolated or lonely;
  • people far from home;
  • people who have been bereaved, especially if the bereavement happened around this time of year;
  • people with mental health problems or who are disabled or housebound;
  • people in poverty;
  • people away from their families;
  • people dealing with relationship breakdown;
  • people with a history of abuse, especially if it relates to family or the time of year;
  • people with eating disorders, or acoholism.



aloneness with griefChristmas can be a very difficult time for people who are grieving the death of a loved one; the sense of loss can be heightened with the loved one missing from family gatherings or other events. Aloneness with grief can be a big challenge. While others are enjoying themselves the grieving person may feel alone with their painful memories. It is likely to be helpful if such people are included in Christmas family events or gatherings of friends.



Some people struggle at Christmas because their beloved is away working, perhaps interstate or overseas. For example, many army personnel are away at Christmas. Their absence at Christmas can create a sense of loss, and even if the person at home can spend Christmas with relatives or friends they may feel a sense of aloneness with grief. This may be exacerbated if the soldier has been away a long time and has children at home. This can be ameliorated to some extent by means of communication such as mobile phones, emails and “Skype”.

aloneness with grief

Relationship difficulties and conflict within extended families, blended families and families that have been through separation or divorce can lead to feelings of loss at Christmas. Children of divorced parents can be impacted by difficulties their parents are having in organizing Christmas and school holidays and the parents can feel grief in relation to happier times when everyone was together. Everyone is different when it comes to grief, and each family member can feel aloneness with grief at this time of year.

aloneness in grief




aloneness in grief

Estrangements can be painful at Christmas. If a family member has estranged themselves then when the other family members get together for Christmas the person missing at the table may be like “an elephant in the room”. Everyone may have mixed feelings, including the person who has estranged themselves.


aloneness in griefChristmas gatherings can bring together people who rarely see  each other and who do not have strong loving relationships. This can cause friction or arguments and general tension at a time when people are supposed to be enjoying themselves.

I had a client whose childhood had been very troubled and who had ongoing issues with his parents as an adult. He did not see any of his family at Christmas and felt sad in the lead up to Christmas as he thought about his childhood. He felt a sense of aloneness with grief.

Christmastime can be a period of considerable spending; on gifts, Christmas Eve/Day family meals, lights and other decorations and so on. Not everyone can afford a festive, feasting Christmas. Parents who are unemployed may be not only grieving the loss of a job but also the ability to provide a bountiful Christmas.

aloneness in grief

The photo above shows a girl reaching out to a homeless man who is no doubt experiencing aloneness in grief at Christmastime.


The organization “mindhealthconnect” suggest ways of managing stress, anxiety and depression at Christmastime. See





Loss of pets: permission to grieve

loss of petsLOSS OF PETS

Loss of pets can be a devastating experience. I have witnessed the grieving of people who have lost their dogs through euthanasia. It is such a wrench, such an excruciatingly painful experience and for a long time afterwards the dog owner feels bereft and sad and sometimes distraught.

Friends and relatives are not always sympathetic; they do not understand what is going on with the grieving pet-lover. Thus you may feel alone in your grief.

Call me for a free 10 minute consultation to talk about your loss or to book a one-on-one professional counselling session.

loss of pets


         Mob. 0478 783 506 

          Tel.     9943 240


For many people a pet is not “just a dog” or “just a cat”; it is a beloved member of the family. When your pet dies a significant, perhaps traumatic loss may be felt. Being devastated with feelings of grief, sadness and loneliness is natural. Some people may not understand the depth of your mourning following loss of pets

The grieving process occurs slowly and grieving the loss of your pet is a highly individual experience; allow the process to naturally unfold. Grieving is a highly individual experience and the process occurs gradually. Express your grief rather than “bottling it up”. No one can tell you when it is time “to move on” or “get over it”. It is OK to cry or not to cry. It is OK for you to be angry. It is also OK for you to laugh about memories of your beloved animal companion.


Coping with the loss of pets can be complicated by the fact that not everyone understands grieving following the death of  a pet. Some people assume that the loss of a pet should not be as significant as a human loss or that it is inappropriate to grieve for an animal. Some are not able to appreciate the level of companionship and love a pet can provide. For more see

loss of pets


loss of pets

Losses: breast cancer survival

Losses : breast cancer “survivors”

One in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer by the age of 85. More than two in three (69%) are diagnosed in women aged 40-69. Vivienne has known many women who have been diagnosed with breast cancer. Following the shock of  such a diagnosis may come great uncertainty, anxiety, fear, a feeling of loss of control and also a grieving process. Some women subsequently endure numerous losses, both transient and permanent. These may involve:

  • numerous medical tests such as scans and blood tests
  • a lumpectomy or mastectomy
  • reconstructive surgery
  • lymphodaema
  • chemotherapy
  • loss of hair, during chemotherapy
  • tissue damage due to radiation treatment
  • early menopause
  • removal of their ovaries or loss of ovarian function, loss of fertility ability to bear children
  • endocrine drug therapy for many years
  • development of osteoporosis and necessity to have drug treatment
  • numerous sexual losses including sexual functioning problems
  • loss of job; change sin family role(s) and losses associated with role(s) in the community
  • financial losses due to medical bills and loss of income
  • loss of security about health and loss of confidence about the future

Immediately following a mastectomy a women experiences many losses associated with losing a breast (or breasts). Choosing an outfit to wear on an outing now means finding a top that her tender chest and restricted arm can tolerate, as well as finding a way to fill in the missing breasts. So, she has lost the freedom to wear a variety of clothes and has lost some of her sexuality. Years down the track this can still impact a woman. The grief can be triggered by many things e.g walking along a beach with one’s partner, with topless women sunbathing and women frolicking carefree in the sea, their full and real breasts spilling out of their bikini tops. Issues with body image are ongoing for many.

The many losses associated with the series of events that can follow mastectomy  are  multidimensional. Some women may feel a losses of femininity, self-esteem and identity.  Loss of fertility is a significant loss for younger women. Others struggle with the uncertainty that comes with having a cancer diagnosis. Some have a great anxiety around their fear of dying. Breast cancer “survivors” often have to have follow-up medical tests and procedures done for many years, even decades later. They live with uncertainty. Every one of us lives with uncertainty about how and when we will die, but breast cancer survivors are reminded of their mortality constantly. If a woman has had a mastectomy then every time she undresses or dresses the physical scarring and missing breast(s) are reminders as are the prosthetic breasts.

Read about the sexual losses of breast cancer survivors and their “disenfranchised grief” at:


breast cancer patient

Whether you have just recently been diagnosed or now think of yourself as a “cancer survivor”, if you would like to be supported in coping with your losses and your grief seek professional counselling.

Family members and friends who take the role of carers also suffer and experience loss and grief.






Mob    0478 783 506
Tel      9943 2400