Christmas: The most wonderful time of the year or the loneliest season of all?

24 December 2018

• A fifth of bereaved Brits find Christmas the most difficult time of year
• A quarter of UK adults have spent more than one Christmas Day with nobody but their pet

For many, Christmas is the season to enjoy quality time with family and friends, yet for others it can be incredibly lonely – especially for those who’ve recently suffered a bereavement. From an empty seat at the table to memories of old traditions, it can be more apparent than ever that someone is no longer there.

Research from Co-op’s Biggest Ever Survey into death, dying and bereavement reveals that for a fifth (21%) of Brits, Christmas is the hardest time to deal with the loss of a loved one¹. A further tenth (8%) claim that the first Christmas following a death is when it truly hits home that that person is no longer there².

For the majority of Brits, December evenings become booked up with get-togethers and Christmas dos, as the eagerly anticipated 25th December quickly approaches. Yet for almost a fifth (18%) of recently bereaved Brits, evenings are found to be one of the loneliest times of day, along with bedtime (21%) and first thing in the morning (11%).

It seems that during such times many turn to their pets for companionship, as further research from Co-op finds that over a quarter (26%)³ of UK adults have spent more than one Christmas Day with nobody but their animal companion. The study shows that a third (32%) of men have spent Christmas Day with their pet more than once, as opposed to under a fifth (17%) of women. Surprisingly, a fifth (21%) of Brits aged between 18 and 24 claim to have spent a quiet Christmas Day with just their pet.

David Collingwood, Director of Funerals for Co-op Funeralcare, said:

“Going through a bereavement can be incredibly hard and certain times of year tend to magnify feelings of sadness, as they bring back memories of happier times and old traditions.

‘’As Christmas is such a family orientated time of year, it comes as no surprise that many people find this the toughest time to cope with their grief. It’s so important that communities come together, ensuring where possible that nobody is left to spend Christmas alone.”

Co-op hosts a range of community activities over the Christmas period to support those who may be lonely or who have recently lost a loved one. With over 200 events taking place across the UK, from bereavement clubs to memorial services, there’s something for everyone to get involved with. For more information, contact your nearest Co-op Funeral home.


¹ Co-op’s biggest ever survey into death dying and bereavement was conducted by You Gov from 7th May to 14th June 2018 among over 30,000 UK adults

²Research conducted by Atomik on behalf of Co-op Funeralcare with 2,000 UK adults in February 2018

³ Research was conducted among 2,000 pet owners in November 2018 on behalf of the Co-op by Atomik Research

For more information contact:
Sarah Pyatt: / 07850 002312
Emily Penkett: / 07738 621201

Case Studies available ISDN line is also available for interviews Follow our news on Twitter and Instagram: @coopukpress

About Co-op:

The Co-op is one of the world’s largest consumer co-operatives with interests across food, funerals, insurance, legal services and an online electrical store. It has a clear purpose of championing a better way of doing business for you and your communities. Owned by millions of UK consumers, the Co-op operates 2,500 food stores and over 1,000 funeral homes, with more than 63,000 colleagues and an annual revenue of £9.5bn.

The Co-op and British Red Cross have been working in partnership since 2015 to highlight and tackle loneliness and social isolation across the UK. The partnership’s ‘Trapped in a Bubble’ research identified bereavement as a life-changing event that can trigger loneliness.

About Co-op Funeralcare:
Co-op Funeralcare conducts almost 100,000 funerals annually across over 1,000 funeral homes. Combined with its leading legal services business, the Co-op is also a national provider of later life products and services ranging from funeral plans, through to wills and probate.