Who will you be there for this Christmas?

by Charly Hutson
Strategic Lead for Bereavement

Charly Hutson, Marie Curie Strategic Lead for Bereavement

Well, Christmas is nearly here – festive music plays in every shop, glittering lights illuminate late night shopping trips and everyone is full of cheer. Or are they?

Christmas is a particularly difficult time for people who have been bereaved. Research released today by the Dying Matters Coalition shows that a huge 47% of people would feel uncomfortable talking to someone who has been recently bereaved. This means that the majority of us are avoiding people at a time that they need it the most. So why do we avoid these conversations? Well, because they are difficult and we are terrified of getting it wrong.

This is certainly not a new problem. Back in 1961, CS Lewis wrote in A Grief Observed:

 “I am aware of being an embarrassment to everyone I meet. At work, at the club, in the street, I see people, as they approach me, trying to make up their minds whether they’ll say something about it or not.”

So what can we do about it? Dying Matters has today launched Being There a really helpful set of tips on what to say when someone has been bereaved, all based on feedback from people that have been through it. It is packed with helpful, practical ideas on what and what not to say and do.

The festive season is always busy and full of celebration and it is easy to find ourselves in January and our feet haven’t touched the ground. This year, I am making a December Resolution (why wait till New Year!) to reach out to people I know that have been bereaved. Is there someone you could do this for too?