Heather discusses Christmas traditions old and new in this blog, and trying to find happiness and joy at this time of year, whilst grieving for loved ones.

A time of festive wonder and joy. Of spending time with family and loved ones. Great food, presents and parties galore, but what if you’ve been bereaved?

“A double whammy”

This year marks the second Christmas without my dad and the first without my sister. A double whammy. Two people are missing from our family and at a time when family is so important, this hurts on many levels.

The memories of opening presents with them and cooking Christmas dinner. The laughter that was always present in our house is going to be missed terribly.

Christmas was my Dad’s favourite time of year. He enjoyed everything about it and so did my sister. It’s hard knowing that they won’t be here to enjoy another one with us. It stings sometimes when I see a shop advertising Christmas gifts and playing Christmas songs because it doesn’t feel the same for me anymore.

When I think of this time of year though, I think back to my childhood. Memories of watching the Star Wars trilogy and everyone falling asleep. I think of playing monopoly and Dad always winning, and I think of last year, wrapping presents with my sister and mum. These memories make me happy so I hold onto them fiercely.

I know that Christmas day is going to be filled with sadness and watching families walk around the Christmas markets, smiling and talking. It is difficult when there are holes in your own family – but there is also happiness.

New traditions

I had the pleasure of knowing my dad for 28 years. He gave me my sense of humour, my stubbornness and my love of cheese boards. I also had my sister for 28 wonderful years; she was my best friend and I shared a bond with her like no other.

At a time when family is the centre of the occasion, I feel grateful that I knew them. The sad times remembering them are also matched with so much love for the people they were and still are to me.

I still love Christmas. It may not be the same and in some ways, I grieve for that as much as I grieve for my dad and sister, but I’m beyond lucky to have the memories I do have. It will never feel the way it used to and I will always feel like they are missing but I want to smile for them and try as much as I can to still feel some Christmas spirit because I know that is what they would want.

A new tradition for us will be lighting a candle in their memory and sharing stories of them. This is a new kind of Christmas but one that will still be filled with love.

Although we are used to Christmas being happy and joyful. You can cry, shout, or scream if you need to. Sit with the feelings, then let them pass, and most importantly; be kind to yourself. Talk to someone about your loved one(s) and Christmases past. Include them in what you do as much as you can because I truly believe that the ones we lose never really leave us.

Heather Coldwell

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