Will being home alone bring comfort, so soon after his death?
Dear Annie: I used to love Christmas, but this year, I just want to hide myself away until it’s all over. Six months ago, I lost my partner. We’re both outgoing, but he especially was the life and soul of the party. I’ve already had invitations, but I almost feel as if by being on my own, I will have him all to myself. And yet I’m also worried that I won’t be able to cope. Being with other people would be a safety net of sorts, but I’m not ready to be ‘taken out’ of myself, or share Michael with them. I crave solitude - and the comfort that being with him made me feel. Will I have that, at home alone? – JH
Annie says: I really hear what you’re saying about wanting that time with Michael, just you and him, no distractions. Sometimes we really need to immerse ourselves in our loss, and being alone can feel like the best way to do that. Of course you have every right to spend Christmas in the way you feel is best for you, so go with your feeling and let people know that is your preference.
You could also let your friends and family know that you may change your mind and ask them to bear that in mind, in case you decide to turn up at theirs last minute. That way, you are not under pressure to make a decision, but you know you have options.
And bear in mind, that you could still find that time alone in the company of others. It might be that you choose to be with others, but spend a lot of time in a separate room, or just being quiet. Sometimes it’s just a comfort to know that people are downstairs, or around you, getting on with things. So if you do take someone up on their invitation, just let them know that you like the idea of the safety net but that you’d like to be left alone. I am sure they will understand and they’ll be grateful for having some direction in how to help you.
Annie Broadbent is a trained psychosynthesis counsellor, with specialist experience working with the bereaved. As a therapist she explores the mind, body, feelings and spirit, working with individuals in a way that is most appropriate for them.
She is the author of bestselling self-help book We Need to Talk About Grief, inspired by personal experiences of living through bereavement, including her own. Whilst writing her book, Annie volunteered at St Christopher's Hospice and has given a number of talks on issues around grief, bereavement and mental health.