Losing a loved one is hard no matter when it happens.
It turns your world upside down and suddenly you look at everything with a sadder and darker outlook.
You don’t mean to. You try and put on a smile, tell everyone you are OK and make the best of the situation.
Except, you are not OK. Not really.
Inside you are feeling the pain and dread that comes with facing the first events without that missing someone.
Recently we experienced the ‘first birthday’ without my dad. He would have been 81 this year but we lost him back in August.
Everything is still so raw and painful, it was a sad and numb day. Not being able to phone him and wish him Happy Birthday really hurt.
Instead I sat and shed a few tears and chatted out loud to him as if he were in the room. The cats looked at me as if I’d gone crazy, but it really helped me get through the day.
Everyone experiences grief differently and, in return, will find various ways to cope with their loss.
Talking out loud helps me. I truly believe he hears me jabbering on as I tell him what the kids have been up to and what’s generally going on in life.
I wrote to my dad after he died, and I put the letter inside his coffin. Another way of dealing with my grief, writing it down.
It was quite an emotional release. Both of my children (aged 5 and 10) also wrote to him and drew him pictures. It helped them to come to terms with what had happened.
Christmas is a wonderful time of year, we all love it in our house. Yet Christmas seems to really highlight the loss you’ve experienced.
Perhaps as it’s such a family time of year, you just seem to really feel it so much more.
So here we go, about to face another ‘first’. The first Christmas without my dad.
He won’t be here watching us open gifts, eating far too much turkey or falling asleep on the couch whilst Last of the Summer Wine plays quietly on the TV.
There will be one less gift under the tree, one less place at the table and despite enjoying the time of year as he’d want us to, a sadness will linger softly in the background as we remember all the wonderful years we had him with us.
There is no easy way to heal from the pain, no magic cure and certainly no right or wrong way to grieve.
My only advice is do whatever you need to do to get through it, one day at a time.
It’s OK to cry. It’s OK to talk out loud to loved ones that have left us.
Write to them, play them their favourite carol or song, light a candle, enjoy one of their favourite tipples….. Whatever works for you to help you with that ‘first’.
Grief is raw and uncontrollable, it will consume you at times and it definitely comes in waves.
Don’t run from it, face it if you can and find ways to work through it especially at this time of year when it seems so much more real and harder to cope with.
Everyone says that the ‘firsts’ are the hardest and things will get easier.
I’m not sure I agree, I think we just learn to cope and find a way to live without them, to me it will never be easier, just life as it’s become.
But I’ll carry on and not let grief consume me. I acknowledge it and accept it for what it is, but life still needs living and I have 2 little people to raise.
I want them to know it’s OK to grieve, to cry, to miss someone and to take time to deal with all that comes with the loss. But I also want them to know that it’s OK to go on living.