Written for House 21.
Christmas, the most wonderful time of year, the one time of year we are supposed to put differences aside and spend it with those that mean the most.
However, if someone is missing from your table this Christmas their absence can feel all that more acute especially at this time of year.
I remember the first Christmas without my Dad; I was busy working in retail and could not have felt any less festive if I tried. I remember vividly going up to the staff room on my break and sobbing my heart out, the pain had been bubbling up within in me all day. Although he had passed in the June it still felt so raw and Christmas just simply amplified my grief. He used to drive and pick me up every Christmas eve and drive me home for Christmas, regardless of the time I would finish. The year before he passed, we had the worst snowfall we had ever had and yet he drove in the snow to pick me up, the usual 30 minute journey taking him over 2 hours.
There are still certain Christmas songs I cannot listen too as they remind me of that moment where it truly felt like I would never enjoy Christmas without him.
Are you missing someone too? If so, I could give you all the advice in the world but nothing I could say will truly take that pain away, you have to live it, you have to feel it and more than anything you have to deal with it in your own way.
What did we do?
We changed it up, we had never spent Christmas anywhere other than at home but the idea of sitting around our dinner table without him was just too painful to consider, so we booked to have dinner out for the first time ever and this is a tradition we have kept up ever since. We don’t have a very big family and there are unfortunately no young children to keep us busy so it can be hard, but it does get easier.
This is the 9th Christmas without my Dad here and I still miss him, as much as I always have but with time I have found it easier to talk about him. We share memories and toast to him every year and I know he is there celebrating with us in spirit.
Try not to shy away from Christmas but do it on your own terms, if you don’t want to celebrate in the way you may have before don’t be pressured into it. In time you will adjust because ultimately life goes on and the person you are missing, they would want you to carry on without them, they would not want you mourning their loss forever.
One thing I would say is accept any support that people offer, people will not know what to say or do but lean on people and be prepared for waves of different emotions. Grief and healing are never linear, you will have moments of normality and happiness, cherish these moments and don’t feel guilty.
For me I find it easier to include my Dad in the day almost as if he was still here and be sure I will be raising a glass to him this year and remembering the Christmas’s we did spend together.
Sending so much love to anyone grieving this Christmas, please know you are never alone and it will get easier.