I wrote a social media post yesterday asking for people to reach out to bereaved siblings over the Christmas period and offering some tips on how to do this. Today I’d like to turn to offering some tips to you – the bereaved siblings.
Where to start………? I would argue Christmas is ordinarily a strange time of year for us bereaved siblings. A strange time of year where we are in this twilight world of being acutely aware of the loss of our brother or sister as well as simultaneously being deluged with images of happy families, laughing, celebrating and having fun. But wait, this year we’re also dealing with the additional losses that have come as a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic – possibly of other loved ones, maybe of work, most certainly of the kind of celebration we might have had were it not for a global pandemic the likes of which we’ve never seen before! I think it makes for an exceptionally strange Christmas 2020.
So here are Siblings Matter‘s tops tips for bereaved siblings navigating the Christmas period:
If ritual is important to you do something to mark the occasion – light a candle, visit a grave, listen to a song, watch a film – anything that intentionally connects you with your brother or sister and if that’s too difficult, skip it. These are meant to be helpful tips, not absolute must do’s!
If you can, do something active – a walk maybe. Not with music or a podcast but just listen. Take note of what’s around you, especially anything in nature – the rustle of the trees, the singing of birds, the sound of the wind, cold rain on your face. Be as present as you can and take note of any feelings which come up for you. In my experience nature has a way of directing us to our feelings.
My favourite way to journal is typing – hey don’t judge I was a legal secretary many moons ago and love the rhythmic nature of fast typing! My top tip is set up a password protected word document and then type away. Don’t censor, don’t show anyone. Just let whatever is present for you in that moment pour out onto the page and keep going until you feel done. Rinse and repeat as often as needed.
Be Your Own Best Friend
I say this all the time; be as gentle with yourself as you possibly can. Eat some fruit and veg alongside the xmas pud, chocolates and other stodge. Drink plenty of water, get outside and get to bed at a sensible time – at least some of the time!
Check How You’re Feeling
Try to drop down often and see how you’re feeling. Acknowledge, allow and honour whatever comes up for you. Really try and tease out what the feeling is. An emotions wheel can help you get really specific. Remember crying is allowed, anger is allowed, laughter is allowed (it’s ok to take a break from our grief without feeling we’re betraying our brother or sister).
If you have a safe person and what I mean by safe is someone who would be happy to let you share what’s going on for you without judgement, then talking can be really helpful. I mean you don’t even have to talk about your grief if you don’t want to. Just reaching out and connecting with someone who you trust with your heart can be enough to help.
I hope some of this is useful. Remember bereaved siblings, there is no one right way to navigate this period. Whatever works is absolutely fine. Perhaps you could pop in comments, any other ways you personally get through this period. I’m sure by sharing, we can collectively support each other during this period too.