This time of the year is heavy for me as I lost my father on the 30th December. Since his passing, I find Christmas, the anniversary and the arrival of the new year, all rather hard to deal with, and if I had my way I would remove December out of the calendar altogether but I can’t.
I am sure I am not the only one missing their cherished loved one, many have lost their loved ones to Covid-19 in the past two years, and as they face the festive season they will be torn by wanting to keeping things as normal as possible for those around them but they will be haunted by the sight of that empty chair at the dining table on Christmas and Boxing day. I remember the last Christmas my dad and I had, the table was all set with Christmas crackers and usual dishes of food, but our last Christmas was just a picture postcard etched in my memory as my father was too ill to even sit, let alone sit at the dining table. He could not eat and four days later he passed away peacefully at home with me by his side. My dad loved Christmas which we celebrated in addition to Diwali, the festival of lights. So November and December were jolly months for us. We have a Christmas tree in our front garden which I have always decorated. 8 years on it is meant to get easier but those on the grief road will know, there is an emptiness not just in our physical world but in the core of our being. This depends on how close we were to the person we’ve lost as I appreciate not everyone feels the same. Our grief is as unique as our DNA.
As a Leadership Coach I try to share some thoughts on coping with life when I write, and having been in the depth of grief, I have an insight on what this day may feel like for many. I hope it is of some help to someone who might be struggling with this time of the year.
1. Do what you can cope with and just do what feels right for you.
2. Surround yourself by those who understand how you feel and avoid the energy zappers. You know the ones who always think life can be fixed, well sometimes it is not possible and that is okay too.
3. If it helps cook the food you used to enjoy with your loved one or cook a special meal of your choice but make an effort for you.
4. Go for a walk and listen to music.
5. If you feel overwhelmed with emotions write a letter to your loved one tell them how you feel.
6. Make a list of your blessings.
7. Drink a glass of your favourite something and say cheers to those who are no more.
8. If you are marking this day by yourself watch a feel good movie but give yourself permission to get through the day as you please.
I will share something really personal here. I remember the first Christmas after my father’s death I dreaded it so much that I literally made myself unavailable to the world. It was as though the lights had gone out in my world and nobody was home. The second Christmas, I remember crying myself to sleep on the sofa thinking I don’t want to live. I never sleep during the day but grief can be exhausting. With my father’s blanket giving me warmth I thought will I ever enjoy living again? I dreamt that afternoon, that he came and hugged me as if nothing had happened. I woke up from that dream thinking I know I can do this. I felt as though he was with me on Christmas day. There is a point to this dream, our loved ones are only a thought away. If there is a time to cut yourself some slack it is now. Death does not separate us as the love we feel is too strong. Having a strategy to cope with Christmas and this time of the year, even if means being strategic in who you let into your world, will hopefully, help you and those around you better. Death is part of life but we are so fixated with the physical world that it takes time for our heart to mend. I hope in time you will feel their invisible hand touching yours.
Peace be with you.
22nd December, 2021