Christmas the empty chair and me.

Many of us this year are faced with the prospect of not having our loved ones around our table this Christmas, lockdowns, possible restrictions and the fear of a virus, such an upsetting time, we will have to make do with a video call, a glance through a frosted windowpane, it’s okay, we will have next year…

But what about those that instead of a video call have a graveside visit? Instead of a frosted windowpane, we have an empty chair, a void within us that we feel can never be filled. What then for us? How do we make do?

Grief is a very personal and at times lonely journey, the ebb and flow of our emotions can be a daily battle, some good days, some not so good. For some Christmas can be an extremely hard time to navigate our way through, it’s Christmas after all, such a joyous festive time, we HAVE to be happy right? How do we get through with that smile on our face that spring in our step when there is such an ache in our hearts when we feel that at any given moment, if we hear THAT Christmas song or get a whiff of THAT Christmas candle, we will dissolve into a puddle of complete devastation, fearing we will never be able to get back to our feet!

I do not pertain to have all the answers, what I can do is offer, what I hope, are words of solace and comfort.

I am one month away from spending my 20th Christmas without mammy, this one takes the lead, this one means I will have had more Christmases without her that we had together!  Mammy LOVED Christmas, she started her shopping in August, she always made it such a special, almost magical time, we visited family and friends, we didn’t have much growing up, but Christmas? Christmas we seemed to have it all.

The first Christmas after mammy died we spent at my granny’s, and that’s about as much as I remember if I’m honest. The following Christmases consisted of, drunken hazes, foreign beaches, family times, the first with my fiancé, then my husband and the last 6 with my children, 1, 2 and then three, lots of firsts.

So, how do I get through the Christmas period? I remember the laughs we had, I buy the chocolates she liked, I make soup as she made it, I start shopping in august and I, to the best of my ability make my Christmas as magical as I possibly can, I cannot have her with me but I can insert her into so many of my Christmas ways, I have her around me. If I ever feel that wave of sadness creeping over me, I stand back, take a deep breath and let it come, I allow myself to feel whatever it is I may be feeling and that is the golden nugget I give you, this simple yet powerful offering, give yourself permission to feel sad, allow yourself to cry, reach out to family or friends and tell them how you are feeling. You do not need to pretend you are okay. The ebb and flow of grief will continue, but this Christmas give yourself the gift of Love and precious memories. Whisper their name with love on your lips.

‘Although this chair looks empty, it’s filled with all the love of those who can’t be with us and are watching from above’

Nuala O Kane – NI Hypnosis Mid Ulster