The Most Wonderful Time of the Year?
Christmas… the most wonderful time of the year? In many ways, absolutely definitely yes. What isn’t magical about Christmas with children? But for us, there are many moments at this time of year that are difficult when supporting children who have been bereaved.
Two years ago was the first Christmas we spent without our Niece and Nephew’s Mummy. At this point in time we weren’t legally their Special Guardians yet, but had started to get the ball rolling, and had secured a Child Arrangements Order. Being responsible for children for the first time ever was different to say the least. We were normally that Aunt and Uncle who would choose the children’s present based on how annoying and loud they were (one year we gave them a floor piano for example). But this year we had to spend a lot of time and consideration into choosing the perfect gifts they so rightly deserved. Yes, we spoilt them. And we still do to be honest. But that first Christmas especially, we wanted to do something extra special for our Niece and Nephew. So we decided to surprise them with a trip to Disneyland Paris with their half sister, her dad, our friend and her son.
It. Was. Magical. All of the children were just in awe of the whole place. The parks were still set up for Christmas when we went and it even snowed whilst we were there! Aunt cried at every possible moment because it was just so overwhelmingly wonderful.
But then it’s moments like that, full of so much joy and happiness, that can also bring you crashing back down to earth. Because it’s in that moment that you realise that someone else should be here to witness it all. There’s someone who won’t ever get to see their children’s excited, smiling faces at Christmas. This is exactly what that first Christmas Day was like for us. Our Niece and Nephew were still so unbelievably mesmerised by the power and magic of Christmas. But as we sat there in their Grandparents home, watching them open presents and tucking into our Christmas dinner, your grief could just hit you unexpected. This is why it is so crucial for us to make a conscious effort to remember their Mummy at this time of year. They may grow up to have less and less memories about their Mummy at this time of year (as they were only 3 and 4 during their last Christmas with her) so we need to ensure that she is not forgotten in any way.
Last year was the first Christmas that we spent in our new home. A priority for Uncle was to have a real Christmas tree. Unfortunately this was not a magical experience and we popped to our closest Homebase to spend over the odds. BUT. It was beautiful. When we were decorating our tree we decided we needed a special decoration for Mummy. Ever since she passed away, we have spotted white feathers in the most unusual places. We are one for superstitions, but this one seemed to resinate. We would find them the kids bedroom, on our stairs, right outside our front door. Not regularly, but often enough for us feel like it had a meaning. Because of this, we chose a clear bauble with feathers on the inside and ‘Mummy’ written on the outside. We also got a matching one for Uncle’s parents which said their Daughter’s name. It’s such a lovely moment when we put the bauble on the tree and always encourages us to think of her at this time of year.
This year, we went on a Lantern walk with our local childhood bereavement charity, Guys Gift. This was their 10th annual walk but the first one we had attended. As we arrived, we were able to make a bauble for our Niece and Nephew’s Mummy, which we then hung alongside everyone else’s baubles. It was really nice to be amongst other families and children who had lost someone important to them. We then went on a walk around the grounds of where we were with our baubles and lanterns. We arrived at a tree, where we hung our baubles and spent a few minutes in silence thinking about the loved one we missed. As we were walking around, it was a lovely opportunity for us to talk to our Niece and Nephew about their Mummy. We spoke about what we missed and what we thought she might’ve liked for Christmas (we decided on some new trainers, a tattoo and some earrings). It was great for our Niece and Nephew to see that there were other children who had been bereaved and that they are not alone when missing their Mummy at Christmas.