Usually at this time of year I publish my top ten tips of how to get through Christmas when you have lost a loved one. This year I have been moved to take a different view. If you want to see my top ten tips, just search the blog and go back a year and you will find them.
This year I have been moved to write about appreciating what you already have. I know this is an old cliché in the vein of ‘you never know what you’ve got until it’s gone’, but it is something we can forget in the lead up to Christmas with all the adverts depicting happy families showering each other with gifts.
I have lost my Mum, my Dad and my only child and always say I have no family, but that is not true I have a brother. We have never been close, well I think we may have been close when we were very young; we started to grow apart when he was a teenager. He is two years older so when his mates came round of course I wanted to hang around, but was not wanted. This is understandable, but we also liked completely different music and belonged to different social groups, I was a ‘skinhead’ ‘and liked reggae and Motown, he had long hair a leather jacket and liked heavy metal. So we grew apart and never really got close again as we then grew apart literally as I got married at 17, then divorced and moved to America.
Anyway this post is not about my brother, it just got me thinking that with all the consumerism at Christmas the only gift that really matters is your friends and family.
So if you find yourself getting irritated with your family this Christmas, remember those who have no-one. They would give anything to be in your shoes. I picked up the phone this morning and called my brother and I have made arrangements to go and see them just before Christmas because they are my family, regardless of the past.
So my Christmas message (get me – I sound like the Queen), is appreciate your family and friends this Christmas, they are what make Christmas special not the presents. If you know someone who is all alone, pop round, have a chat and make sure they are OK, or give them a call.
If you know someone recently bereaved, acknowledge their missing loved one on Christmas day by doing something simple like lighting a candle. Ask them if they would like to talk about happy Christmas memories of the missing person, then laugh and shed a tear. Don’t dwell on it, so pick your moment when you can then switch to a lighter subject. I know it is tricky, you don’t want to bring people down, but personally I found it hurtful when I spent Christmas with friends after losing Toby and he was never mentioned.
Above all be grateful for the people in your life and have a peaceful, loving time over the Christmas break. Of course also eat too much, drink too much and I hope you get lots of good stuff.