Christmas is a time of joy. Except when it’s not because you are hurting with the loss of someone you love.  Grief can be an all consuming beast and everyone has to find their own way through. This unplanned post has been prompted by knowing so many people this year, family, friends and colleagues, who this Christmas will be feeling a loss very acutely. I share what we do as a family each year for as long as I can remember now, to keep the joyous spirit of those not longer with us alive for us.

New Zealands Pohutakawa – our version of a Christmas tree

Maroon 5’s Memories will be playing in our house on Christmas eve as we sip bubbles to remember all the beautiful souls who we no longer get to share a physical Christmas with (the Maroon 5 part is only being added this year).  Each year we have created little pendants for each loved one who has passed. We have also created them for the grandparents that our children never met, in the hope that they feel part of their ancestors and their history. It’s about building a connection that isn’t a temporary physical one.

We also have a candle that we light before we begin what I’ll call the memory ceremony (but that makes it sounds much more formal than it really is).  The candle gets lit, then each of us one by one, take turns to pull out a pendant and hang it on our mantel piece. As the piece is hung the person hanging it shares a memory of the person and we toast.  For our Pop, if it’s one of the kids who have pulled out his pendant, it will more than likely be reference to how he always got out of his chair (not a mean feat for him at that time) and would go to the cupboard and get them the liquorice allsorts. This is bound to be followed by “and the house stunk of smoke”  For an old family friend, Brian, it could be something about his amazing photography or the way he sat at the chair on a Sunday night with his legs crossed and one arm over the back, hands held, jiggling with laughter at the shenanigans that would occur when all the family got together because he had come to visit. For Nana its her singing in the kitchen.

The point of all of this is to give us space to remember these beautiful people.  Talking about them, laughing at shared stories and yes sometimes there are still tears.  But at the end of it we have a wonderful shared connection and they are still very much part of our Christmas joy.

So if loss if part of your Christmas this year;

  • Think about creating a memory tradition to bring those have passed back into your Christmas day. Maybe its pendants, maybe its a walk along the beach, maybe its purchasing bubbles that you associate with the person (GH Mumm in our fridge ready for Christmas eve for Nana and Bud)
  • Focus on talking about the good memories on the day – people who are no longer with us were never perfect, they were human after all.  There are plenty of opportunities to work things through things on other days – choose today to remember the fun.
  • Be kind to yourself
  • Be grateful for the loved ones you still have with you and focus on creating amazing memories with them.
  • Know someone doesn’t have to be with your physically to still be with you.  Our connections go beyond the physical, embrace their energy that is still with you each day.
  • Celebrate your army of angels

Whatever this Christmas holds for you remember to do what’s right for you. Look out for others you know may be struggling and help them bring the joyous memories into the festive celebrations. And if they really don’t want to celebrate, accept that too. Know your values, define your own vision for success and live a life that you actively participate and thrive in.

Nadine xx