What if they're not home for Christmas?
Of the many reasons to celebrate Christmas, on the top of the list is family. As far as I am concerned, for me Christmas is all about family.
What happens then when a family member cannot be present because they have passed? Christmas time is supposed to be about joy, love, giving and fuzzy feelings- how can we manage this where our loved one has passed?
The response is completely unique to the individual and family.
For us in my family, Christmas was a big deal because of my mum as it was her favourite time of year. To say she went all out was an under statement.
2006 was the year we lost my mum, and the year we nearly lost Christmas.
Leading up to Christmas, I believe it was about the 23rd December, my sister and I had a discussion. We could see dad wasn't going to do anything about Christmas. Mum would have well and truly had the decorations up by the first week of December. It was too painful for dad to do because Christmas was always all about my mum. It had also only been just a few months since we lost mum.
My sister and I therefore got to work and we dragged out as many decorations that had been stored away as possible. We wanted the Christmas magic my mum brought to life every year before that.
Of course we couldn't achieve the same feelings without her touch but we certainly brought our best to the Christmas table. (Continued. scroll down).
On the one hand, we realised that sometimes you need to allow grief to settle before exposing the very thing that would remind a husband of his wife being that Christmas was all about mum. Just as we were trying to grasp hold of the memory of mum, dad was trying to bury his emotions.
Christmas lunch therefore started off extremely awkward. The dynamics within our family had definitely changed. We fumbled our way through we have no idea what to say conversations. Even the bon bon's just weren't fun and were done in an auto pilot kind of way.
After Christmas lunch I think we were all feeling like failures, that we couldn't manage a simply Christmas lunch without mum. The grief was still new, and perhaps doing this was just too soon.
On the other hand, it was actually the best thing because by that night there was no sign of that awkwardness, but a family enjoying themselves on Christmas.
The presents my dad had bought us needed his help in setting up. Whilst doing so we started playing music from dad's play list and before we knew it, conversation was flowing again as well as even laughter.
Something that hadn't been heard from our home in a while.
Upon the loss of a loved ones, many emotions are experienced. Of those emotions, guilt is often the immediate response to any kind of happiness felt and that is one reason we may deny any sort of celebration.
We believe if we are happy, that means we are somehow not honouring the memory of our loved one and we should still be in mourning.
One lesson losing a loved one however has taught you is just how short time is. That there is no time to be lost by spending it with your loved ones.
Therefore, with the family members you have left, allow yourself to enjoy your time with them on Christmas Day.
I know as my sister and I were setting up the table, I accidentally set 4 places instead of 3.
I write this Blog after seeing some friends who have lost family within days of Christmas, but on Christmas Day you can use this time to connect with each other, and support each other through this tough time, and feel the warmth the love of a family provides.