There's nothing in the world worse than losing someone you love. It doesn't matter if they're a partner, a relative, a friend or even a pet: it hurts. And it doesn't stop hurting for a long time. Christmas is an incredibly tough time to deal with this as you gather around with those you love and it's a season all about joy.
Six years ago I lost my Granddad at the beginning of December. But I don't think it would have mattered if he had passed away in June. The first Christmas without him sucked. We used to go to his house for breakfast, and he handed out the presents on Christmas morning. Having one less person around the table made all of the difference in the world. And it hasn't changed since. I still miss his booming laugh over Christmas dinner, and the way he would try to add something extra special to the day each year.
It didn't go away after the first year. Losing someone doesn't ever 'go away'. It gets easier over time, and you learn to cope with it in different ways, but Christmas won't ever be the same as it was 7 years ago. It's taken a long time for me to come to this conclusion, but it's okay. Things change, and we lose people, but new people also come into our lives.
The most important thing for me is making sure that I continue some of the traditions that he set up. We still have cherryade on Christmas day, like he'd always buy. We still have a special Christmas breakfast. I still spend the day surrounded by loved ones, even though I've moved away from home now.
Change can really suck. When Christmas has its roots in tradition, I find it really hard to deal with change at this time of year. This will be the third year that I won't be spending Christmas with both of my parents after they split up. I haven't officially 'lost' either of them, but at the same time, the loss of my family unit is something I'm having to learn to deal with. In the same way, there's always going to be someone missing at the table on Christmas Day, and that's tough. But, making the effort to spend some of the festive season with both parents is hella important to me. Yes, I'd love to live in a world where we could go back to being a family unit at Christmas, but it's not going to happen.
As well as continuing some old traditions, I think it's important to change things up a bit. Having exactly the same festive routine, but with someone missing it awful. It completely draws attention to the fact that that person isn't there anymore, and I've found it incredibly draining and upsetting in the past. Creating new traditions is all part of the fun of Christmas too. Last year we bought some festive trivia cards and played them over dinner. This year we're having our main meal in the evening instead of at lunch like we've always done. Making new memories can help with the fact that last year's memories are a little painful.
Loss is hard, and I'm sending out love to all of you feeling it this festive season. I hope everyone has a wonderful Christmas, even if things are a little different this time around.