All I want for Christmas …

Submitted by Analytics oa on 18 Nov 2022
18 Nov 2022

One of the hardest things about the death of a parent, brother or sister from cancer might be realising that they won’t be around to share special times of the year like Christmas.

Getting through these tough times can be made a little easier if you can talk about it and plan ahead.  Balancing everyone’s needs can be tricky. (And there may be times when you just can’t be bothered or feel angry.)

Sometimes the adults in your life might not include you in discussions about how to deal with things like birthdays, Christmas, anniversaries or annual holidays. This might be for many reasons, maybe they aren’t sure themselves, not sure how to communicate with you or are trying to protect you. Encouraging open and honest communication where possible can be the key.

It can help to have a conversation about ways to bring your parent, brother or sister whom you have lost into the experience and have them be present in some way. There are many ways that you can do this.

Here are a few ideas:

  • Talk about family traditions
  • Do things that your parent, sister, brother liked doing on these events e.g. playing monopoly
  • Cooking/bringing along their favourite dessert, meal, snack or drink
  • Playing their favourite music in the background
  • Wearing a piece of their clothing, jewellery or perfume
  • Telling jokes or stories that they liked telling
  • Acknowledging them in the event somehow e.g. time to discuss memories

Each of you may have a different idea on how and what you do to mark these events. Don’t expect too much of yourself or your family. There isn’t anything you ‘should’ do or feel. It will probably be hard and you may need to take special care of yourself.

Often the ‘firsts’ of these are the hard– because you can’t imagine what it will be like and you may be really scared about how hard it will be. That’s not to say that others won’t also be hard and painful, but you may have developed some ways to get through them. The lead up to the day can be worse than the actual day.

Things to think about: Will you do the same things that you have always done? If not – what will you do differently? There is no right or wrong way to do it. Figuring out what works for you may take a while and might change later.

A word about friends: You may have already learned that life for your friends continues on as normal and that they forget that you are grieving. If you need some support during anniversaries or special celebrations, don’t be afraid to ask.

For extra support, why not join our online space where you can connect with other young people going through a similar experience to you, or chat with one of our counsellors.


This Christmas Canteen is hosting the following events and activities to get involved in:

The Great Gingerbread Challenge

NOTE registration closes on the 26 November

Other events

VIC End of Year Celebration

NOTE registration closes on the 30 November

18+ Book Club - Christmas Reading Pack

NOTE registration close 14 December for those aged 18+

All other events noted here