Coping With Bereavement at Christmas x

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:

mum 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!

Mum and Helen x

Please feel free to share some comments about what gets you through this time of year.

xxx

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20 Comments

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20 responses to “Coping With Bereavement at Christmas x

  1. Thank you for writing this I miss my gran dreadfully at Christmas. I have some of her decorations in particular paper angels that I put out every year it makes me feel that she is here.

  2. I made some Baileys this morning and I said to Mum I will always think of Nan when I make it (we used to make it together when I was very small). This year we will be raising a glass to my Uncle (who sadly passed away in October) and other friends and family who are no longer with us………my uncle never said ‘cheers’ he ALWAYS said ‘bollocks’ so we will honour that tradition and raise a glass and all say ‘BOLLOCKS’.

  3. Keri

    I’m missing Helen so much Minty. She asked me to spend xmas with her and dad which for me makes this year so much harder now.i put my xmas tree up in her memory because of how she loved it. I remember last year how she was so excited about getting the decorations out. I wish you all love and happiness over xmas and hope to see you soon. Xxx

    • That’s a lovely thing to do Keri. Just make the absolute most of having your Mum, and raise a glass to Helen. She’d be the first to bollock you if you were too miserable! 😉 I’ll be thinking of you mate xXx

      • AnnaBlack

        Oh believe me I know she would kick my ass if I was miserable. We’ve done our xmas bit now cos of the kids going tomorrow and it’s been a good day. I’ll be thinking of you over xmas though. In my eyes because of Helen you are family and always will be xxx

  4. This is beautiful, I second sophie…I LOVE the bauble too…funny how evocative Christmas is…I am sending you big Christmas hugs, and unique mum and your Aunty and your friend’s energies are continually wrapped around you lovely…they are always a part of you…

    Loads of love to you xxx

  5. Thank you for this. We lost our baby girl Rhianna in March and in October my OH best friend and our childrens godfather passed away. It has been a tough year and Baba our four year old is getting us through but we have been struggling. We have canvasses of both the children’s birth details, their names on baubles and a picture of OH best friend but I love the idea of a card going to do that thank you xxxx

    • Oh my goodness I am so sorry for your loss. It must be incredibly hard for you. I’m so very glad that you have your 4yo to share some joy with, and I hope you make some special memories together this year. Wishing you love and strength and a warm family Christmas together. xXx

  6. Having a bereavement at or close to Christmas complicates the matter. My dad died on 17th December and so the build up is tarnished with the impending anniversary. Once that is out of the way, I can finally relax and enjoy Christmas with the children, who sadly he never met and would have adored.

  7. Kirsten

    Wow, that was a tearjerker! Coincidentally, I’d just seen via a post this time last year on my fb wall about your mum’s passing and Grace’s tantrums. That must have been incredibly difficult. I’m fortunate enough not to have lost anyone too close yet, I’m an emotional wreck at the best of times so I dread to think how I’ll cope when the inevitable happens.

    Thanks for the insight, it’s a good reminder that not everyone is going to be feeling jolly and that it doesn’t mean they’re Scrooge.

    Your mum must have been so proud of who you are and how she’s passed on valuable life skills and now the cycle will continue.

    I love your ideas for trying to muddle through and, although I hope not to need them for some time, I will know where to turn for some inspiration.

    Merry Christmas, Minty, I hope the day falls into place this year and every other. xxx

    • What a lovely comment to get! (I hope you get to read some of the more light hearted of my posts! I’m not all about the sad stuff, honest!) Thank you for reading and understanding, and have a fabulous Christmas x

  8. Simon Mortimer

    Both our Mums are sorely missed. But always watching over us. X

    • Must admit Si – I was thinking of you when I wrote this. Hope you’re muddling through ok. I’m damn sure they’re with us one way or another (my Mums probably telling yours how handsome you are! 🙂 Warmest thoughts to you hon – have a Merry Christmas xxx

  9. What a lovely post to write and this year for me so poignant. My beloved Grandmother passed away three weeks ago and Christmas was unbearable at times. I am still in shock slightly, having survived the first new years eve in over twenty years that I haven’t called her at midnight. She was my best friend and I hope that this time next year I will be able to remember her without the tears xxx

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