Whether it’s your first Christmas without a certain person or your fifth, whether you’ve experienced a significant loss in the past year or are sad to be spending the holidays alone – so many of us struggle at this time of year because our memories turn painful, certain songs or decorations trigger emotional reactions or we’re heartbroken that our relationships are not the way we wish they could be. 
 
Many of us find it difficult to enjoy the Christmas and New Year. What makes things all the more challenging is that we're expected to be in good spirits all of the time and that we see everyone else enjoying their Christmas holidays and thinking we should be able to do the same. 
Christmas when you're grieving
Men hear a lot of messages as they grow up that can inhibit their ability to grieve. Unhelpful phrases including, ‘man up,’ and ‘crying is for wimps/girls.’ Men have been told for generations that they’ve got to be strong. 
 
We want to enlighten you. 
Men and Grief
Our hearts go out to the families and friends who have not been able to share last moments with their loved ones during the global pandemic and haven’t been able to say goodbye, or have had to say goodbye virtually. 
 
You may feel guilt that your loved one has died alone, even though it’s out of your control. And then the funeral. Friends and relatives have had the ritual of saying goodbye taken away from them; something that is part of the normal grieving process. 
2020 A year of loss
Today, we would like to remember the Service families and the sacrifices they make. As part of standing with those in Service they inevitably experience feelings of grief, the conflicted feelings caused by the end of, or change, in a familiar pattern of behaviour. 
 
These families endure periods of separation from their loved ones, experience the loss of friends or deaths of service members from their units, and can experience the loss of their loved ones. If there are younger children involved, there can be an added complication of explaining their parent is never coming home. 
Lest we forget
As COVID-19 rattles on, we continue living our lives with a degree of uncertainty and not knowing how long it's going to go on for. This year you may have faced uncertainty over your job, finances, health, relationships, going on holiday, seeing family and friends, and now a new uncertainty over how we’re going to celebrate Christmas. 
 
Many of us aren’t equipped with the skills to manage uncertainty, especially over a sustained period. We have an inbuilt need for security. Uncertainty can leave us feeling out of control, anxious, directionless, drained, and wondering what tomorrow might bring. 
 
Uncertain times
If you've been following the news this year, you will have heard about Jack's Law, which came into force in April 2020 and mandates a minimum of two weeks paid leave after the death of a child or stillbirth.  
 
The law is the result of ten years of campaigning by Lucy Herd, who tragically lost her one-year-old son Jack in a drowning accident in 2010. (You can read more about Jack's Law here.) 
Lucy Herd Jack's Law
Do you have a grieving friend, but you don’t know what to say or do?  
 
A typical nervous reaction is to ask if they are okay. Relentlessly. And of course, they are not.  
 
As a friend, you can end up in a ‘no man’s land’ of wanting to help, show support, and that you care, but you don’t know how. And then you’re worried about disturbing their mourning. 
How to support a friend after loss
Why the people you expect to support you after loss can disappear 
 
If you’ve been unfortunate enough to go through a significant loss, you may have found that the loss continued in the form of friends who didn’t show up. 
 
This is something that we hear from grievers on a regular basis. While we’re not here to make excuses for them, we can give you some plausible explanations. 
 
The Kiss of Death on a Friendship
As the first wave of COVID-19 victims’ families reach the six-month milestone, and the pain of loss isn’t getting any easier, we wanted to give you some hope. And it has nothing to do with time being a great healer. All time does is pass. 
 
There will inevitably be anniversaries, and no day will pass without a thought crossing your mind about your loved one. As you reach six months without them, anniversaries, birthdays, the anniversary of their death, and other occasions without them will no doubt trigger those feelings of loss and often the raw, overwhelming, consuming pain all over again. 
Covid 19 pain
Teaching children from an early age to deal with what life throws at them will only help their future emotional wellbeing. The first of six values in our Open Ears programme looks at being present. Being present helps children to develop good listening skills, including listening to themselves. Being present also helps them to reduce their stress levels, feel calmer and more centred, relaxed and more positive. 
Grieving the Living: Alzheimer's
Taking place 9th-15th October every year, Baby Loss Awareness Week aims to raise awareness about pregnancy and baby loss in the UK. Stigma and silence often mean families feel isolated in their grief. COVID-19 has made this worse. 
 
Today, guest blogger and Grief Recovery Specialist Detola Amure shares her story. 
Detola Amure Advanced Grief Recovery Specialist
This is a time for compassion and empathy. As we go back into local lockdowns and the rate of infection increases, anxiety is also rising. Getting through the day can be hard enough for some. 
 
We are calling on you to take notice, listen, and comfort others without trying to fix, analyse or explain, or change the topic back to yourself. 
How to actively listen
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