No one should struggle alone

Across Scotland, 300,000 bereaved children, young people and adults are facing their first Christmas without a loved one. Many will need additional support to cope. No one should struggle alone.

November 28, 2022

When you are grieving, there are some dates that can be particularly painful. The “high days and holidays” – those immovable dates on the calendar – days that are often pre printed and marked out for us in our diaries – days for us to notice and do something with – days that, before we were bereaved, we perhaps even celebrated.

Days like Christmas.

These opportunities to gather and celebrate can leave us feeling utterly isolated and alone … even in the company of others.

Days that have become, as CS Lewis penned, “always winter, but never Christmas.

Two years ago we opened our Helpline on Christmas Day and, Fiona, our first Christmas caller explained to us that, although she was surrounded by family and friends, she felt very alone and didn’t want to burden her family with her sadness on a day of celebration.

That day, our Helpline was a lifeline for Fiona – offering her a safe place to share her burden of sadness and loneliness with someone who was there, for a time, to help carry that burden with her. Not bringing that sadness into the family celebrations was important to Fiona, and our Helpline helped her achieve that.

This year, the deaths of over 60,000 people, in Scotland, will mean that more than 300,000 bereaved children and adults will be facing their first Christmas without a loved one. Many of them, like Fiona, will feel utterly isolated and alone … even in the company of others.

It is hard to escape Christmas!

We may catch our breath as we hear the first strains of Fairytale of New York on the radio, or in a shop store, and know that there will soon be no escape for our ears. Shop shelves will become laden and aisles strewn with all manner of Christmas things – the “this, that and the other” of things we never even knew that we needed! Our TVs will start to fill with familiar sights and sounds … the Coca Cola lorry offering hope that “holidays are coming” … John Lewis tugging heartstrings once again – this year as a foster dad learns to skateboard … and Lidl Bear gaining unexpected fame – but makes it home (by parachute!) in time for Christmas. Cost of living crisis, or not, these companies compete hard for our trade and can make Christmas unescapable at every turn – even if we want to escape.

For those who are grieving, the build-up and anticipation of the first Christmas, without their loved one, can be brutal.

Empty chairs at Christmas tables; gifts wrapped that will never be opened; traditions that won’t be marked as they once were; cards that won’t be exchanged; arguments that won’t be argued; those would have been “just perfect” gifts that are seen but not purchased; favourite Christmas songs playing unannounced. Grieving people can often feel forced to play the hardest game of Charades that they have ever had to play.

It can be relentless – and deeply painful.

And … it’s not just the first Christmas … it’s the second … or third … the fifth … or tenth … whatever the number … Christmas can be expectedly, and unexpectedly, difficult … whatever the year since the death of a loved one.

At Cruse Scotland we believe that no one should struggle alone in their grief, and we want to ensure that our Helpline remains open, and free, for anyone who wants and needs that space to talk. We cannot do that without the generous support of others.

For every £10 that we raise, we can provide a one-hour Helpline call – a lifeline to someone just like Fiona, allowing a little light to shine in the darkness of the isolation and loneliness that grief can bring for many.

Give what you can to help us be that lifeline for many.

Find out more about the services we offer and the bereavement support that’s right for you.

No one should struggle alone