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Christmas Picks at the Wounds of Grief

Christmas is a time for all the family!

Except that half of my family is dead. My sister in 2003 at the age of 27, my mother in 2017 at the age of 58 and my brother, also in 2017 at the age of 38. I am now older than both my sister and brother were when they died. At times, that really hurts.

My mother loved Christmas, and though after the death of my sister, the light went largely out of my mother, Christmas was a time of the year where some of it came back just for a little while.

I don’t want to put a dampener on anyone’s Christmas but this automatic assumption that society seems to have, which is further reinforced by the media marketers, that Christmas is a happy and joyous time for all is not only inaccurate but can be damaging.

Christmas time is the time to be jolly...

Those who struggle at this time of the year, myself included, can end up feeling that they have to hide how they are feeling and not seek the support that they may well need to get them through the festive season. They may plaster a smile on their face while they are being torn apart inside. With the already increasing demand on mental health services, we surely don’t need to be storing anymore problems for them to be dealing with.

It’s only one day of the year right?

No, not for many years has it been just one day of the year. It starts around mid-October and even extends over the actual day itself. Limiting exposure to the false ideal of the family and Christmas can be done to an extent, but it is ingrained in people. I have over the years been called grouch, Scrooge and misery guts by people who, in general, are nice people because they don’t think. They mean no harm, they just don’t think. Even when I have explained why this time of year is hard for me, the range of unhelpful responses I often get is astounding. They can range from “Oh, cheer up” to “You should be over that by now.”

Dear Grief, I did not invite you. Please leave my heart alone.

That is the thing about grief, it is an uninvited guest who never fully leaves. Sadly, at this time of the year, grief sometimes brings its friends and they all have a party in the aching hearts of those who have suffered or are suffering not just from the loss of a loved one.

All I would ask is that people please be a little more mindful that not everyone’s festive season will be an enjoyable one for all sorts of reason.

Christmas cards made by Lorna herself

By Lorna Smart

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