A somber side to Christmas

It’s that time of year again. The decorations go up, the Christmas music starts ringing from every direction, and the festivities begin.

But for some people this special day can be painted with a veil of sadness. A reminder of what we have lost. A source of suffering, a ruptured wound.

If you have been through any family-related trauma or loss, from divorce all the way to the death of a loved one, this time of year tends to highlight pain that is more manageable during the other seasons, because for the rest of the year we aren’t slammed with cold reminders of what we have lost.

Christmas is the ultimate season for family and love. A truly beautiful time where everyone gets together, sharing stories and making memories. Thus, it can be a time for extreme loneliness for those that may not have that strong sense of family immediately around them. A reminder of times passed, times that they will never get back.

Growing up Christmas was my absolute favourite time of the year. I loved everything about it. The food, the family, the gifting, and the infectious ambience of the season. I was lucky because I was brought up in a house with a mother that really made a big deal of the day.

If you asked me to sit down and sketch a drawing of what Christmas Day felt like to me it would be my mom in the kitchen, apron on, glass of wine in hand, cooking up an absolute feast while singing Christmas Carols at the top of her voice. The most delicious aroma’s caressing the home whilst my dad and I set the table and got everything ready for the hoards of guests invited – the more the merrier was always the name of the game.

She passed away in October of 2017. That first Christmas was devastating. If I could have slept through the entire day I would have. Nothing felt right about it. It all felt forced and unnatural. A lie, an offense.

It didn’t get easier after that either. Last year was the first year away from my home town, so everything felt even stranger. It was just my brother and although we tried to make the most of it, it was a heartbreaking day. This year it’s just me and although I do have a nice week away planned with close family friends, I know my heart will be just as heavy.

I went from loving Christmas to feeling unsettled about it. I will always honour it in my mom’s memory, but nothing I do will make up for the fact that she is gone. All I want is to taste her home cooked turkey, to feel her contagious cheer and to hear her singing from the kitchen.

Sure, one day I will have my own family and would have found a new way to enjoy the season, but right now it still doesn’t sit right with me.

My hope for this is to bring to light that not everyone is feeling merry right now. Christmas is a truly wonderful time of year full of happiness, as it should be, but if you feel like someone you know may be hurting, talk to them. Give them something to feel good about. Help make their Christmas and all the festivities that surround it just a little bit easier by offering a shoulder, a conversation, a hug…or even just a smile. Coming from experience, it will go a very long way.

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