Two candles behind a tree shaped Christmas decoration - Winston's Wish

5 ways to remember someone at Christmas

When you’re grieving, Christmas can be difficult. It may feel like you’re surrounded by memories of the person who has died and so it can be an emotional time. Or you may feel guilty for enjoying Christmas and not thinking about them. If you’re struggling with your grief at Christmas, it might help to find some special ways to remember them.

First, no two people grieve in the same way so you might find that different family members want to do different things. Some may want to continue traditions and remember your person, while others may want to do something new and try not to think about them. It can help to talk things through together and decide what you are going to do at Christmas. Remember to look after yourself during the festive season. If things become too much, find a way to take a breather.

Make them part of your Christmas

You could mark the memory of the person who has died by doing something special and creating a new Christmas tradition. You could light a candle in their memory or visit a place that was special to them. Maybe buy or make a new decoration for your Christmas tree – you could have one with their name on, a special message for them or just one that you know is for them.

Ask people for their memories of your person

You could use this time to learn more about your important person. Ask other people for their memories of the person who died and begin to compile their ‘life story’. If family members are together at Christmas, it would be a good opportunity to record these. You could include Christmas memories, for example: ‘What was the worst or best present they ever gave you?’ ‘What was their favourite part of the day?’.

Do something that reminds you of them at Christmas

Another way to remember someone at Christmas is to do something they would have enjoyed or you used to do together. Was there a film they always watched or a favourite song they used to listen to or a Christmas food they always ate? You could continue these old traditions as a way to remember them.

Buy them a present or card or buy yourself something from them

It might feel weird but why not buy a present for the person who has died or write them a card. You could place it on their grave or a special place or keep it in your memory box. It’s also okay to buy something for yourself from them. Did they always buy you tickets for something, clothes or chocolate coins? Why not buy it for yourself as a way to remember them.

Write a message to them on our wish wall

It can be difficult when you the one person you want to wish Merry Christmas is no longer here. You can write a message to them on our wish wall this year and read the messages other people have left to their important people. It might help you feel less alone in your grief.

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Some of our Youth Team have shared how they remember their special person at Christmas:

Christmas doesn’t have to be something you dread after losing a loved one, you could incorporate something special like lighting a candle for the day in memory of their presence and remember they are with you.

Darcey, Winston’s Wish Youth Team

One of the things I always find really helps is doing things you would do with that person at this time of year. The one that’s coming to mind right now is – me and my dad would’ve watched Die Hard, so that one’s definitely coming out.

Conor, Winston’s Wish Youth Team

If your person had special traditions at Christmas, continue them in honour of their memory, or create new ones to mark new beginnings. Christmas can still be a happy time even when somebody special is missing.

Maya, Winston’s Wish Youth Team

This year, I decorated my mam’s memorial tree for Christmas for the first time. I’d never thought to do anything like this before and have always struggled at Christmas, which I imagine a lot of people do. It made me feel really made me feel close to my mam and like she was a part of our old Christmas traditions.

Molly, Winston’s Wish Youth Team

Always put yourself first and allow the time to grieve. Don’t hide how you’re feeling because it’s Christmas but also because it is Christmas use it as a time to celebrate lost loved ones in a positive light. I always like to buy my dad a Christmas card and have a drink for him over the Christmas period 🙂

Mackenzie, Winston’s Wish Youth Team

One of the secondary losses that I have experienced and will miss is my dad making a roast dinner on Christmas Day. He always made the best potatoes known to mankind and I would give anything to try them one last time (I am so, so angry that he didn’t leave the recipe). Now, my grandad and auntie normally make the roast dinner and it is still amazing, but not as AMAZING as my dad’s cooking.

Daisy, Winston’s Wish Youth Team

How to get grief support

If you’re a young person who is struggling with their grief or you are an adult who would like help to support a child or young person after the death of someone, Winston’s Wish are here to help. Winston’s Wish provides support for children, young people up to the age of 25 and adults supporting them.

You can call our Freephone Helpline on 08088 020 021 (8am-8pm, Monday to Friday), email us on or use our live chat (open 3-8pm, Monday to Friday). Our practitioners are here to listen, can offer immediate guidance and resources and tell you what support we can offer and what might be most suitable for you.

Our Winston’s Wish Crisis Messenger is available 24/7 for urgent support in a crisis. Text WW to 85258.

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