The Merry

For a long time I did really well. I kept myself so incredibly busy and so stressed that I didn’t have time to think about it.  But eventually of course I ran out of things to do and that day was today, Christmas Eve.  I kept myself so busy and stressed in the weeks leading up to today it made me ill.  But I thought it would work.

We had so little time to decorate the house and I had to do it in such a rush that there was no time to think about it, I just had to get it done. It was the same thing for the presents, same thing for the cards and for the wrapping.  It was just an exhausting battle with no time to think, just trying to get it all done.

But yesterday that crazy whirl started to slow and this morning it slowed down completely. With little left to do and an empty house for the first time, those thoughts and emotions which I have been hiding from have arrived and I have nothing to distract me.

I was absolutely determined that this Christmas would be better. Somehow I just so desperately needed it not to be the awful misery of every Christmas we have had since Nico died.  We called him “Mr Christmas”, he loved it so, and the pain of every Christmas since we lost him has been just unbearable.

But this year I thought I could trick it. I would be just so busy there would be no time to think and it would be come and gone in a flash of green, red and gold merry before I had time to really register its presence.

Except that now, on Christmas Eve I find myself exhausted, stressed and alone. My thoughts and emotions cannot be ignored.  In time honoured Reed family tradition, Nico’s dad is in the pub and I ought to be watching “Carols from Kings” with Nico while we wrap up presents.  I ought to be singing loudly and Nico was always so proud and amazed that I seemed to know every song (I never told him that if I didn’t know I just read the words off the screen and sang them – he never rumbled me).  We ought to be sitting in a scene of happy, ribbon and paper strewn chaos and singing our hearts out in front of a roaring fire (no matter what the weather, the fire was obligatory) as Mr Reed comes home.

But I’m never going to do those things again. Perhaps in the end what I need to do is to invent a whole new set of Christmas traditions, rather than try to bury my misery in activities so stressful I can’t think, eat or sleep.  There is probably only one way forward and that is to find a new type of Merry Christmas.  To be honest I owe it not only to my daughter and my partner, but also to Nico.

It’s still a work in progress. I tried something different this year and it hasn’t really worked.  But one thing I have realised is that I am not alone in this.  In fact I am one of hundreds of thousands. We are all desperately trying to; if not beat the Christmas misery, not let ourselves drown in it.   At this time you year you feel so alone, but the truth is really very different.  I am thinking of all of you now.

I’m thinking of every mother who will never need to hang up a stocking up again for the much loved child. Every child and every adult who aches to be held by that much loved parent they will never see again.  The agony of a Christmas without the partner you thought you would love forever and grow old with. The pain of a Christmas without that so longed for baby, when everyone else you know seems to have theirs.  The empty dull pain of the marriage which can’t be made to work when it seems everyone else’s can.  The argument which can’t be healed.  The desperate last visits to the hospice.  The knowledge that this will definitely be your last Christmas and your fear for the family you leave behind.

These are only some of the people who are struggling to find the Merry this year. If you are one of these people, or if you are one of the people who find life very difficult, lonely, confusing, fearful and sad – you are not alone, you are also one of many.

In fact, when we look at the truth at the heart of it all, Christmas for most people isn’t very merry at all. It calls into sharp focus who is missing and what we have lost.  It reminds us of how far our lives are from what we wish they were.

So perhaps, the changes that I made for this year haven’t worked out very well, but there is a new knowledge which I am far more certain of.

I know for sure that I am one of very many people who are faking their way through the festive season. We may not be very merry, but we’re here and we’re trying to do our very best.

I hold out my hand to all of you tonight and I wish a very Merry Christmas to everyone.

Nico's Photos_0042




12 thoughts on “The Merry

  1. Beautiful words Rosi! I like the idea of new traditions. Like to think I’m starting one this year in my new home! This is the 3rd Christmas without Bob. I miss him everyday so, I often wonder why this day should be any different really…somehow it always is and probably always will be. As a family we remain thankful that we still have each other but there’s always someone missing. I even counted the number for dinner tomorrow wrongly this year. There’s 8, not 9! Wishing you a lovely Christmas and a happy new year xxx

    • Thank you. I wish I had some very wise words of guidance to share with you, but to be honest if I knew them, I’d start by telling them to me! A child who adored Christmas, missing from Christmas. It’s a toughie and is not getting much easier with the passing of time. However, I must tell you that I’m highly impressed that you are doing dinner for 8 – I’m impressed you know 8 people! And then tomorrow maybe going out somewhere. New traditions ……… let me know how you get on and I’ll let you know how I do. XXXX

      • ‘A child who adored Christmas, missing from Christmas’.
        We experience exactly the same feeling today … these children are always our reason for living.
        I want the learning disability industry to remember Christ on his birthday. The lights are supposed to have a deeper meaning – it isn’t about money and presents for those who already have so much.
        He gave sight to the blind and would have performed miracles on our children – and I’m writing as a Sikh.
        Thankyou to all of you who are sharing power and strength with each other, and my friend who shared this article today.

  2. How beautifully you have put your feelings into words which reflect those of many fragmented families existing through this emotional time of year. Keep breathing with the knife in your heart in the engulfing enveloping heavy air of loss which all the bright lights, tinsel, glitterand finest presents in the world cannot remove. Cry the cry, Scream the scream, Smile the smile and continue to be strong in the knowledge you did your best. Thankyou for helping others in similar situations and helping to change The Systems. Peaceful Christmas xxx

  3. When you loose a loved one you have to find a ‘new normal’, it is the same for Christmas without them. For me, I struggle not being able to buy my baby a gift, so what I have made a promise to do is buy a gift for Alex every year for his birthday and for Christmas. I buy something I hope he would have liked. I then donate them through our local church to a women’s refuge, so the ladies can give their children a Christmas gift.
    It is hard to hand them over, and I shed more than a few tears, but I get to fulfill my need, and another child benefits in Alex’s name.
    The Christmas songs in the shops make me cry, and I hate trying to be ‘festive’ when it feels like such a big part of me is missing.
    At the end of the day, it is another day to survive as best you can. Xxx

  4. Hi Rosi, I am just arriving home from the JR in Oxford where my son was admitted with pneumonia on Xmas eve, so sorry for the delay in responding. I am sending you so much love and hugs at this unchristmas time, and truly feel your pain. Let`s hope something good and positive comes in 2016 for us all. xxx

  5. Pingback: The Wood And The Trees. | Who By Fire

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