Walking home tonight with the lights twinkling all around and festive songs drifting out of shops I fell to thinking about my own Christmas past and my own lost loved ones, all missed and all still dearly loved. Though I have started to grow older, I still know within what it was like to be a treasured grandchild and the love and the special feelings that brought with it. My grandparents have gone now but they walk with me every day of my own life as a grandmother and bring back to me all the of the pleasures of my young days to share with my grandson. And too there are those relationships in my life which fell through the seismic fracture lines, those who are gone but will never be forgotten and who will always be loved. Relationships which stay with me, as I walk back through the leaves in the cold, remembering Christmas past. My lost ones can never leave me because I carry them with me.
This is such a difficult time of year. But then every time of the year is difficult when a child you love is no longer in your life. It really doesn’t matter whether there is snow outside or blazing sunshine when the undending loss of your little ones is your reality. Through family separation, where once was warm and safe and well but is now not that, it is the loss of the little ones that hurts the most that scars the most. When you live in the face of a mind turned against you, it can be so extraordinarily hard to find a way to carry on.
Carrying on with your life though is what you must do. For your lost ones and for your own self, sake and sanity. Though you feel that carrying on is not possible, that despair has dragged you to the depths and that light and hope will never dawn again, carrying on is what you must do. We carry on by putting one step in front of the other, day in day out, focusing on nothing more than getting through, one step at a time. When the pain is too great and the sorrow too much to bear, putting one step in front of the other gets you through the worst of it, as does putting on the kettle for a cup of tea, wrapping yourself up in a cosy blanket, sorting out your seeds and things to plant when Christmas is finished or anything that gets you through. As the title of a Woody Allen film goes, whatever works.
Loving our lost ones is a task that many people bear and the more that I do this work the more that I understand how many people suffer this same silent fate. Our lost ones are taken, through trauma, through separation and sometimes through manipulation, a deliberate act to eradicate relationships which were once vibrant, loving and strong and most of all present. If your Christmas present is without your lost ones, do not stop loving them, do not despair but love them anyway. For whatever has been done to you and to them, cannot turn off the flow of your love towards your lost ones, even if it is only in your thoughts.
As we move towards the longest night, when the darkness prevails and despair can take over, take heart, take care and know that there are many of us who stand beside you, who understand how it feels and who know that you are still the mother or father or grandparent of your beloved children (not forgetting your wider family). And your children know it too, deep down inside, where the memories stay, where the imprints that teach us who we are cannot be removed. You do not ever stop being a parent, a grandparent an aunt or an uncle, no-one can take that away from you. As the lights twinkle and the world turns inwards, keep on loving your lost ones, even in the face of your pain and your heartache. Keep loving them, because one day, Christmas future, they will need you.