Christmas is something of a bitter-sweet experience when you’ve lost someone you love. Every year, the excitement that builds is periodically marred with a stab-in-the-gut feeling that a loved one isn’t here to share it. This year more so, as some regular readers will know that after loosing Mum 2 years ago, my Aunty – her little sister – also passed away this October. We were very close.
I love Christmas. I always have. But it can be hard when it feels like fate is determined to make it as hard as possible for you. Last year, Grace threw the tantrums from hell all day and the presents all got put away. This year, on top of the loss of my Aunty, an old friend of mine passed away. That’s a whole other blog post – but it was such sad news.
And yet I still love Christmas. (Mr Water birth Please and I even got married on 20th Dec, making it an even more evocative time. All the people I loved gathered together on our special day, dancing till the early hours amongst the fairy lights and mulled wine. Good times. Powerful memories.)
I decided to write this post after visiting the tree where Mum’s ashes are scattered. I go every time I visit my home town, but this time seemed different. I lay down the card and holly wreath we’d brought along and it hit me like a tidal wave: how utterly awful it was to be placing a card on the muddy ground. To be stood in the freezing cold talking to a tree – hoping somehow, somewhere she’ll hear my words. I pictured how Christmas used to be, just a few short years ago: arriving to a warm house, a huge hug and a sherry.
I cried my eyes out.
But things change and life goes on. Grace’s excitement is infectious and makes me even more resolute to have a nice family Christmas.
With this in mind, I’d like to reach a virtual hand out to everyone who’ll be missing someone special this Christmas. The support from people on-line never ceases to amaze me, and this is my humble little way of trying to give something back by sharing some of the things I do that get me through. Maybe they’ll help someone somewhere.
- Light a candle. It does not have to have any religious significance. It can be treated more as a symbolic or meditative act. To create a light and spend a moment thinking of someone special can be a lovely act of remembrance.
- Remember that it’s ok to cry. Tears are not are sign that you aren’t coping; they are a sign that you are healing.
- Toast absent friends over Christmas dinner.
- Make a card. Write how you feel in it. Whether you leave it at a place of remembrance or display it in your own home, it can help to put your feelings into words.
- Donate to an appropriate charity. I have donated to the Hospice that cared for Mum, and got all my cards and some presents from Breast Cancer Care on behalf of my Aunty.
- If you’re reading this and are not bereaved yourself, but have a friend who is, please don’t be afraid to reach out to then at this time of year. I received a text least year saying “Must be a strange time for you – but I hope you have a lovely Christmas and raise a glass to your Mum. She’s with you I’m sure.” I can’t tell you how nice it was to have someone acknowledge how I was feeling.
- A photo bauble:
- Be gentle with yourself. Sometimes, even those we love the most run out of things to say. Don’t expect them to psychically know when you’re struggling. Be strong enough to ask for help, or even a hug.
I wish all of you a Very Merry Christmas – and those of you carrying some sadness – all my love and blessings at this time of year. I hope you enjoy it . . . I’m going to do my damndest!
Please feel free to share some comments about what gets you through this time of year.