Original Post: 16/12/2016
Lets not beat about the bush. Christmas isn’t just about family time and buying presents for the people you love. Its also a stark reminder of loved ones you AREN’T buying presents for.
I lost my Dad October 2014 after a tough battle with mental illness which ultimately ended his life. And boy does time go quickly. I have relocated, changed jobs a few times, fallen in love and moved in with my boyfriend and there are now more things in my day to day life that my Dad has never been a part of.
Of course he will always be a part of my life. I am who I am down to him. He affects my thoughts actions and is the reason I feel like a rebel when I swing backwards on a chair but nonetheless life goes on and you adjust. You deal. You pick your life up and while it wont ever fit back together in the way it was, the pieces can still form something beautiful from what was and what is to come.
Christmas shopping is a huge source of grief I guess for me. Grief for my dad is a day to day thing you come to accept but its in sometimes the smallest moments it hits me the most. I guess when I’m expecting to miss him there’s the preemptive adrenaline that kicks in, in the small moments you haven’t prepared and bam!!
I’m a list writer. I’m not a list completer (if that’s a thing) but i love a good list. When i write my Christmas card and present list I still feel super bizarre not writing my Dad, at least, knowing there will be no watching him opening presents, no following our family traditions we had developed over the years. That stings and i feel my eyes welling and my pout of ‘this is so unfair’.
And then i remember that dad hated opening presents anyway. Haha! He never knew what he wanted, and you knew you had hit the jackpot if you got a grin out of him for a present. He wasn’t ungrateful, just not really great with presents!
And then I remember how it was only after he died that I fully appreciated one of his favorite traditions; Christmas morning we always had to wait on the stairs so dad could go down first and turn all the lights on the tree and take a photo of us. We would queue in age order and did it every year until he died. Now the frustrating part was that every year dad was the last one to get up and insisted on having the LONGEST shower before going down. Now we would all stay in our pjs and every year tell my dad to hurry up…pretty pleaseeee….come onn…you do this every yearrrrrr….before finally he would lead us down.
Now i am a little embarrassed to admit that it’s only clicked that he wasn’t just being a pain, and he was trying to prolong our excitement and build it up in a mischievous way only dad would, until after he died. But when I did realize it made me appreciate what a wonderful dad I had and was lucky to have such an involvement in my childhood.
And the past two years my brother has taken on the role of the morning shower-er so actually the tradition lives on.
I have spent a lot of time talking to my partner about all my Christmas traditions and memories including my dad and also his own experiences and what we would love to take forward to our own family….when the time come that is (be right back wiping sheer panic from my sweating brow)
Also I intend this year to commit to at least 2 events to fund raise for MIND, something my family has done previously and something i intend to do more of to honor my father and help others get the help they need
I guess what I am saying is Yes, this time of year does hurt when missing loved ones who have gone.
But it is also a fabulous time of year to reminisce and put in place traditions taught by these loved ones and pass on new ones to those newest additions or additions-to-be to keep the memories alive of those who effected us in such a beautiful and momentous way.
Forgive me. I realize this blog is not so centered on mental health and more coping with loss but sometimes these things can go hand in hand.
This Christmas, turn the absence into reminiscing, thanks and a toast to memories.
I know that I for one look forward to the day I watch my children moaning at their father for taking sooooo lonnngggg in the shower on Christmas morning, reliving the joy my own father got from this tiny tradition. And i look forward to this in the very very very very very distant future!!!!
Did i mention very distant?!
Merry Christmas everyone, and lets keep switching the light on mental illness in 2017 lots of love Sophie!xxx