The greatest gift you’ll get this year is what you already have

Toby and Dad on Pole Hill

Last Christmas together

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.


This entry was posted in bereavement, Christmas, gratitude, Grief. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to The greatest gift you’ll get this year is what you already have

  1. Lori Robinson says:

    Hi Anne- always enjoy your blogs. And I appreciate what you share, always from the heart. It is so hard to be amongst family or friends who don’t mention your “child’s” name. I think it’s too hard for them to know what to say when all we parents want is to know our “child” is still thought about.

    And you’ve lost your family which at these holidays is immensely painful, but I see how your kind and gentle spirit reminds each of us to count what we do have, and to reach out to others who are alone. I know there are so many folks who have no one close by. Thanks for helping nudge us to look around and reach out.

    We attended our son’s best friend’s wedding two months ago. My goodness it was so difficult seeing his many friends who we knew so well, but with the happy event it was likely too hard for them to say hello. We were fortunate that two friends did stop by to share some memories of our son’s life. One was a female friend I did not know how close she was to our son from 7th grade on. She shared sweet memories about his big, generous heart and kindness to all. It felt so good to have her seek me out and bring a smile that she says she’ll never forget my boy. And the groom had made a plea to my husband and me how much he wanted us there ( I did not believe I could handle it) since I always called him our ” 3rd son” since these two became friends at age 4. Our youngest son was asked to be a groomsman in lieu of his brother’s absence. Our younger son handled himself well, but I realize how difficult it was for him.

    Peace to you as the holidays approach. Love the picture you posted of both Toby and his grandpa. Maybe it helps to know they surely are together now. And may your visit to see your brother and his family be a pleasant encounter.

    • annwae says:

      thank you Lori I always appreciate your kind responses to my posts. It must have been so bittersweet to attend he wedding but how brave of you and I’m sure your son was there in spirit. I am at college now doing a degree, surrounded by young men that remind me of Toby. I thought it would make me feel sad but instead I love talking to them and I watch over them and the young girls picking up on any signs of depression and then doing what I can to support them. I hope someone would have done the same for Toby. So even though our sons lives were short we must still celebrate the living and how proud you must be of your other son. Sending you love and peace for Christmas x

  2. Kathy says:

    Hello Anne,
    I hope it helps you to know that your blog has helped me through the worst year of my life. I am so thankful for YOU and all of the moms and dads on this site that help one another to get through the unbearable situation in which we have found ourselves. When I am feeling hopeless, and that happens a lot lately, I come here and read your old posts. I gain hope from your journey and insights. You are an amazing person; your loss has not been in vain. I know I speak for many of us here when I say that we would not be surviving right now if not for you and others like you that have spoken out to help those of us surviving the loss of our children in such a horrific and unthinkable way. I hope you have a blessed holiday season and a new year filled with happiness, and I hope you and your brother are able to connect and build a new relationship. Sending lots of love and hugs.

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