WAY’s Hampshire Area Contact Lynn Bennett organised a pre-Christmas meet up for 27 WAY members in Whiteley earlier this month (see photo below).
“These people are my lifesavers,” she says. “We’ve been through so much and met through adversity but we’ve become friends forever. We ate, drank and danced and had lots of laughs together.”
Lynn, whose husband Mike died five years ago, wanted to share her own experience of coping with Christmas to help other young widows and widowers get through the next difficult few weeks.
“The first Christmas without Mike passed by in a blur,” says Lynn. “We didn’t want to do what we normally did – which was to stay at home on our own – so we travelled three hours up to my parents. I had beautiful blankets made for the girls from Mike’s shirts – something they still treasure. My brother and his family joined us.
“I remember sitting at the table raising a glass to Mike. It was easier to think it hadn’t actually happened. I was definitely in denial at that time. The girls still enjoyed opening their presents, they still enjoyed seeing our family and enjoyed all the festivities. But we had to come home, to an empty house. That was so tough.
“I joined WAY the following year. I’ve met so many amazing people through WAY. I spend most of my spare time with local widows and widowers as they understand everything that goes with bereavement.
"I would advise anyone recently bereaved to do what they feel is right for Christmas. Don’t do what you don’t want to do. Don’t visit family if that’s not what you want to do. Make yourself happy. If that means staying at home and stuffing yourself with sweets, then do it! If it means surrounding yourself with friends who understand, then do that. But above all, don’t be bullied into doing what everyone else thinks you should do.
“It’s a tough journey but together we can travel.”
"WAY is an amazing charity and I don’t know that I’d have managed as well without them. Talking to others who understand is a massive help. I thought I was going mad at times with my feelings after being bereaved, but talking to my WAY friends makes me realise that I’m not alone.
"WAY has been a complete lifeline and I would urge anyone who has been bereaved under the age of 50 to join and go along to local meet ups. It's a tough journey but together we can travel."
Read more tips from WAY on getting through Christmas here...