What Christmas is like when you’ve lost a loved one

Parys reflects on what her Christmas might be like this year without her Nanna

Christmas is supposed to be filled with family, friends, presents and tinsel-clad trees. It’s a time where you finally chill out and sit back, reflecting on the year that’s just gone, surrounded by everyone you love in a warmly lit room. But that isn’t always the case.

Losing a loved one is the most painful thing a person can experience, but I think losing someone just before Christmas makes it that much worse.

Losing a loved one is the most painful thing a person can experience, but I think losing someone just before Christmas makes it that much worse. When you’re racing around every shop trying to find the perfect presents, you’re stressed but it’s also the best: I always imagine the look on everyone’s faces when they open the gift you put so much thought and love into. In the hustle and bustle this year I almost forgot about my sadness, until I came across a small, china ornament shaped like a fairy. Nanna loved fairies. She collected fairies of all shapes and sizes. They scattered along her living-room shelves, and fairy statues even littered her back garden – they perched between flower beds, posing with the tulips or roses. She would have loved this fairy. It has cute pointed ears; it has small wings covered in a constellation of green gems and glitter. It would have looked perfect on the coffee table where she always had a cup of tea waiting for her, next to her tablet which she spent hours playing Candy Crush on and the calendar of Jason Statham that overlooked it.

Poet Phil Kaye once wrote ‘my grandmother’s mind was a ballroom,’ and he could have been writing about my Nanna. She was filled to the brim with amazing memories. She filled with the most magical of love for fairies, Jason Statham and our family. She was the glue that held us together. The one person who no matter what always stood proud and strong holding us all together. Nana was that for us.

I don’t believe in ‘coming to terms’ with the death of someone you love, but rather learning to live without them physically there any more.

I don’t believe in ‘coming to terms’ with the death of someone you love, but rather learning to live without them physically there any more. It took me what feels like forever to accept that and to learn to be okay with the reality that she was no longer physically here with me. Losing her hit me hard and being away from home studying at university made me feel guilty that I wasn’t constantly at her side towards the end. She knew me being away wasn’t personal and I know she was so proud of me for pursuing my education, but it didn’t make it any easier. The initial guilt made the grief worse, but one day I woke up and realised she would be so angry at me for wallowing in self- pity, blaming the world, blaming myself. She’d be mad at all of us sat around feeling sorry for ourselves. So, I grieved, and I cried, and I leaned on my amazing family who in return leaned on me. Day by day that heavy heart we all carried became just a little lighter than it was the day before. Of course, we’ll always be sad. She deserves to be here celebrating with us and the fact that she isn’t anymore will never be okay. But that overwhelming grief and heartbreak is now just a little ache. I know she will always be looking down on us.

The fact that she isn’t any more will never be okay. But that overwhelming grief and heartbreak is now just a little ache.

She should be here. But as cliché as it sounds, deep down I know that she is here. She’ll always be here, in my memory, when I reminisce on past Christmases. Christmas may not be the same without her, but I also know she wouldn’t want us to dwell on the fact that she isn’t here to celebrate with us. She never was one for the ‘doom and gloom.’ I know that wherever she is now looking down on us she’d want us to have just as special a Christmas even though we’re unfortunate enough to have to celebrate it without her.

So, to all those who have lost a loved one just before the holidays, this is for you. This is to remind you that grieving is okay but that your loved one would never want you to let that grief consume you wholly and ruin the Christmas they once loved so much celebrating with you. Christmas is all about family and friends and surrounding yourselves with love and fun, and though this year won’t be the same without them, that doesn’t mean it won’t be amazing.

We remember her with a bauble on the tree decorated in her honour, hanging proudly just below the star that sits on the top. Merry Christmas to my best friend, the best Nana, we all miss you every day.

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