12 WAYs of Christmas

December 2023

Some of our members will be sharing their tips and how they cope with grief and loss during the holidays in our #12WAYSofChristmas

We will be sharing them daily on our social media pages from 20 December through to New Year. You can also look ahead at their tips below.

20th December

"You might find comfort in creating new traditions, doing old ones or not doing any of them. There is no right or wrong way to do the festive period after losing your love." - WAY member, Aimee

21st December

“In the early days, it's just about getting through whatever way you can. Whatever happens, life will go on and Christmas will go on. You just have to get through it the best way you can." - WAY member, Bridie

22nd December

"I decided very early on that I was going to give myself permission to only do what I felt ready to do, and if that meant not joining in the rest of the family festivities, then so be it.

Be gentle on yourself - if you don't want to be alone, then make plans, but be prepared if being around people gets too much; tell them in advance that you might nip out when you feel overwhelmed and not to worry." - WAY member, Vicky

23rd December

"We light a candle for Nick, that goes on the table at Christmas. The kids still struggle to talk about him, but it's a reminder that we miss him, and still think of him. I also buy a record that I think he would have liked, and we play it, and talk a little bit about memories of him" - WAY member, Natalie

24th December

"Matt loved Christmas as much as me. We all agreed that we would celebrate in the same way as always, as that is what Matt would’ve wanted. We include Matt in our day – by that I mean we talk about him, laugh about Christmas past and things he said/did. It’s hard, and sad, but it worked for us.

 The main thing to remember is that there is no right or wrong. It’s whatever works for each individual family. We will start thinking about some new traditions we can incorporate, as well as continuing with our old ones." - WAY member, Sukina

25th December

“Don’t feel as though you have to be around people all the time; it can be exhausting even if they are just trying to look out and care for you. Sometimes time to yourself can feel lonely. Equally, you can also feel your loneliest in a room full of people. Do what is right for you in the moment.” - WAY member, Anon

26th December

"Each year, I’ve learnt that as well as keeping the tradition and the memories, we also have to do us. We have to make our memories too; we have to do what’s right for us. It doesn’t mean we’ve forgotten him; it just means that we’re moving forwards in a way that works for us." - WAY member and Ambassador, Emma

27th December

"The days in between Christmas and New Year can feel like a strange time. I keep busy doing different activities and making as many memories as we can with laughter and smiles." - WAY member, Anon

28th December

"Knowing WAY members are here helps enormously. We all grieve differently but we still all get it." - WAY member, Anon

29th December

"I did as much as I could to make Christmas special for my daughter Sophie - but also made sure I had some nice Prosecco and food for me. Sometimes in the early days I did need some quiet moments - you do need to acknowledge how you are feeling." - WAY member, Elanor

30th December

"We took all the pressure off for Christmas. It was much quieter but still cosy. We talked about them a lot…It was much smaller than other years, but it felt safe for us.

 We also knew that it was ok if we felt sad and it was also ok if we were having fun. We can experience all the emotions and more in one day and that’s ok." - WAY member, Fionn

31st December

"Don’t bottle your emotions up. Find a way of bringing your loved ones into your day. Talk about previous New Years; remembering good times helps with the current times." - WAY member, Anon

Hear more from WAY members:

We know how difficult Christmas can be for people who have been widowed young. As everyone around you is celebrating the festive period, we understand that no matter how many days, months or years you are from your bereavement, this time of year can bring a rollercoaster of emotions.

WAY members share more tips for coping with grief and loss at Christmas.

This will be Sarah’s first Christmas and New Year without Glynn, who died on 3 March 2023.

"He was such a fan of Christmas and loved going over the top on decorations and spoiling everyone! He made Christmas magical, and I’ll make it special in his honour.”

Read Sarah's story and how she will be having a 'Glynn-styled' Christmas this year...

WAY volunteer Tracey shares the story of how WAY Widowed and Young’s Secret Santa initiative came about.

This year she is organising for more than 170 gifts to be sent out to WAY members’ children across the UK, helping to share a little WAY love at Christmas.

"The motivation to keep going is literally the smiles, just knowing that I, and my fellow WAYers, have helped WAY families all over the UK smile, if only for a minute."

"I suppose I’m facing next year with optimism. I have to get through the first anniversary, but then I have to live my life to the full. I owe him that because he can’t do the same and I owe myself that, because I have a life to live."

WAY member Claire shares how she is facing the Christmas and the New Year with as much optimism as she can since her husband of 20 years died in January…