This is that time of the year when we may be spending time with friends and family. But, we should also spare a thought to those who may be separated from their loved ones or who may have lost someone close during the past year.
For those, this may be a painful reminder of the moments that were shared. When we lose someone, we do our best to get on with our lives and, in essence, we usually do. But then, there are times such as Christmas, that are poignant reminders of the void that person has left in our lives.
The times when you used to pick up the phone to just say ‘hello'. The friend who you would call to discuss the minutes of a business meeting that has particularly gone well, or the mother or father who was always there for you, both during good and bad times.
Counting on friends
When we lose someone dear to us, those times are often difficult to get through. Although our friends may be there immediately afterwards, they soon get busy with their own lives. And we are, eventually, left alone with our memories.
And, of course, when the first birthday comes, the wedding anniversary, the next Ramadan, Diwali or Christmas, the memories turn more vivid as they come flooding back. Tears may not be as uncontrollable as during the early days, but nevertheless, they may still be there — yet more manageable. This is a natural part of the bereavement process.
However, if you can find someone to talk to and discuss those moments, then you are fortunate, but sometimes you need to go and seek them out for yourself. Your friends and relatives cannot read your thoughts, so you need to tell them how you are feeling.
We know that life goes on, but there are also times when we need to pause and reflect on that which we have been fortunate to have achieved and those we have loved, and still love.
Think about others
And so, at this time of the year, think not only of yourself, but also of others. Those who are, for whatever reason, not included in your family celebration. It could be a next-door neighbour who lives alone, who you could invite for a cup of coffee and a chat. Or, the shopkeeper who lost his wife at the beginning of the year and wants to work over the festive season to take his mind off his loss — for him, a smile and a kind word could make all the difference.
Or, the child who has experienced the trauma of parents divorcing — this season will be sad for them as they come to terms with their family breakdown, and they may need your help through these difficult times. For those children, they cannot fathom why it should have happened to them, or if they were responsible. These are the children who need your help and support.
People need people. We all want to feel needed and loved. This time of the year should be one of inclusion and community. And if you don't belong to a community, then take it upon yourself to find out where you can give of your time where your support will be valued and where you can find new friends.
We have to take it upon ourselves to be proactive and even though we may not feel like it, that first step is the one that will open doors and lead to many others along the way.
We can all help each other if we want to. To empathise with others outside your family is the one way to ensure that this festive season will be one of inclusion, caring and giving.
In my mind, that is what this time of year should be all about so that you, and everyone around you, can look forward to the next one with a positive attitude to go forward and make both your world and their world a happier and better place.
The author is a BBC guest-broadcaster and motivational speaker. She is the CEO of an international stress management and employee well-being consultancy based in London. Contact them for proven stress strategies — www.carolespiersgroup.co.uk