Life after loss

Christmas after loss

Christmas is a strange time for a lot of people. It is meant to be this perfect time, full of festive cheer, snow on the ground, love and laughter, but the reality for most is not the case: many can’t afford it, others are working, some are going through divorce. Rather than making people happy, Christmas often just highlights to people what is wrong in their lives, or what or who is missing.

Up until this point in my life, I have been lucky enough to enjoy Christmas, it’s been full of family, a beautiful tree, presents and so much food. And when Lowen came along it all became a thousand times better. We got to enjoy the magic through his eyes. Show him the lights, the tree, how to open his gifts, tell him stories, watch the films.

Then last Christmas, Lowen’s third, should have been Maisie’s first. Our first with two beautiful children. We desperately hoped Maisie would make Christmas. She would have adored it: all those sparkly lights and beautiful decorations. We weren’t entirely sure how we’d cope through it. Part of me just wanted a quiet day, just with Ben and Lowen. But we had planned a big family Christmas, with everyone around our house, and in the end we decided to go with that. Lowen had a wonderful time, and our house was full of smiling faces and laughter. There was a lot of bittersweetness to it, but we decided to love it, mainly for Lowen. You don’t get many Christmases with your little ones where they believe in all the magic of it, so we tried our best to make the most of it.

A year on, and here we are again. There is the same feeling of dread, sadness that she isn’t here for another year and longing for her. But I really hope I get to experience the magic through Lowen’s eyes once more, whilst also making Maisie a part of it.

Ways we make Maisie a part of Christmas:

Christmas Eve boxes

I bought Lowen and Maisie boxes before she died, fully knowing that we wouldn’t be using Maisie’s box forever. But I wanted to put little trinkets in it to open each year, to remember her by. I’ll put new things in it and tree decorations in it each year. It already has the pyjamas in it I had ordered for her, but she never got to wear, they are beautiful!

Decorations and her own tree

We found a tiny tree for Maisie (which is currently in the garden), and we also have lots of special decorations for her from different friends and family.

Stocking and presents

I couldn’t not have a stocking for Maisie, and my sister knitted the most beautiful one for her with her name on. And last year I bought a couple of little gifts for Maisie for Lowen to unwrap for her: small cuddly toys to put next to her photograph. I don’t know if I’ll always buy her presents, but it is worse not to. We’re just very lucky to have Lowen here to help unwrap them (he would have done it for her if she was here anyway!)

Advent to Remember

This year I want to start a new tradition, as begun by @legacyofleo the #adventtoremember is a series of things to do throughout advent in Maisie’s name. These can be big or small, but it’s just a nice way to involve her. I’m hoping to include things like hanging a note on the memory tree in the Cathedral, lighting a candle, donating money to different charities in her name, and visiting Mousehole lights.

How to help others experiencing loss during Christmas

Obviously everyone is different, and I can’t speak for everyone. But the vast majority of people who have recently lost someone want that someone to be remembered always, and especially at Christmas. So if you’re looking to help someone who is dearly missing someone, especially a child, at Christmas, please don’t leave them out.

Include them in Christmas cards – if you don’t want to include their name in the address, mention them in the note to say you’re thinking of them. Maybe buy them a small gift: something to hang on a tree that reminds you of them, or donate to their charity or another charity in their name. Whatever you do, just mention them. When your child is no longer (or has never been) included on a Christmas card, it hurts. It makes it seem like they no longer matter, and that they’re no longer part of your family. Maisie will always be part of our family, we will always be a family of four, and I love seeing our names all together.

I completely understand that it is hard to know what to write in a card. So I hope that by sharing this, it will help.