There is a sadness that has over time turned from an all-consuming pain to a dull ache throbbing in the background. Yet, as Christmas Day approaches, the volume of this pain is increasing at an alarming rate.
Carols that Children sing
While, with tears, my ears just ring
With the echoes of the past.
The empty seat at the table.
The present I no longer need to buy.
The blank card without your handwriting.
The silence of your voice.
The hollow memory of your hug.
As my fragile memory begins to make you fade away. I look around on Christmas Day.
You loved Christmas more than me.
Your laughter would echo through the halls. Christmas jokes and paper hats.
Lots of hugs and lots of claps.
As the children gasp at the gifts you’d bring. You’d make pleasant conversation and brought warmth and peace to our home. Helping with the dishes when everyone was done.
And snooze on the couch amongst everyone.
It doesn’t feel like Christmas.
Not to me.
I don’t feel like celebrating it.
It just feels wrong.
I miss you more than ever. The pain is sometimes too much to bare. It’s not supposed to be like this. It isn’t fair.
The only way I’ll stop feeling sad,
The only way these pains will end
Is to be with you again, my dad
My first and very best friend.
– Laura Burton
What to do: When you are missing a loved-one at Christmas.
I compiled a list of ideas to cope with Christmas while missing your loved-one. Because no matter how much I want time to turn back to a happier time, no matter how much I want it to stop altogether, life moves forward. And another Christmas is here.
Honour old traditions
The best way to remember your loved-one is by carrying on their traditions. My dad loved to have dates at Christmas. No one in my family eats them, but I will still buy a pack and leave it out just for him. I may even try one.
It might be a type of food your loved-one had, or a favourite game they loved to play at Christmas. Maybe it’s playing their favourite Christmas song. All these little things make you feel like they are still with you and not truly deleted from your life.
Make new traditions
Last year I bought a beautiful golden wreath to leave at the grave. Which I plan to place every year. I’ll take the family and we will say a few words in honour of my father, who is dearly missed.
Perhaps you can do something special for the gravesite, or perhaps play a particular Christmas movie on Christmas Eve. Or maybe your loved-one was involved in a charity, perhaps you could volunteer or do some fund raising. Think of some small things you could do that you can make a tradition to remember your loved-one.
Talk about your loved-one
Share your favourite Christmas memories that you spent with your loved-one. Write them down on paper, in a diary or online. Speak to your friends about them. Maybe they had some memorable sayings or funny quirky mannerisms you can talk about?
Talking about your loved-one keeps them alive in the hearts of those who know them. The more you talk about them, the more other people will know your loved-one. And their love, their personality and influence on you will stretch far and wide and make a difference in the world. What a wonderful thought.
Speak to your loved-one
Whether you believe they exist somewhere or can hear you or not, it doesn’t matter. Speak to your loved-one. In your head, aloud or written down in a letter. You can take this opportunity to reflect and thank them for the memories, perhaps say words you never got to say when they were alive. You may even have unresolved challenges with your loved-one which makes the whole grieving process more complicated.
Talk to them. Tell them what’s going on in your life. Tell them what you would say if they were alive. Don’t worry if it makes you cry, tears are a sign of healing.
Reach out to other people
The world is full of people who will be missing a loved-one at Christmas. Just look around. No one is immune to death, we are all destined for it. So reach out and be a friend to those who are also sad. Be a shoulder to cry on. Share stories. Exchange ideas on how to enjoy the Christmas holiday.
It makes you feel less like you’re the only one in the world hurting. It makes you realise we are all in this together. That there are people who understand. You just need to find them.
- Honour old traditions
- Make new traditions
- Speak about your loved-one
- Reach out to other people
May you feel the peace and warmth this Christmas and hold tight to the ones who are with you today. Cherish old memories and embrace opportunities to make new ones.