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Remembering Our Loved Ones

Recently I was talking with a friend about how she remembered her son on special occasions. She told me that on his birthday, the family held a family dinner with a birthday cake for him and at Christmas they laid a place for him at the table.

Another friend still hangs a Christmas stocking for her daughter. Somebody else I know gives a gift to charity from her deceased mother every Christmas.

Some people may think that this is all a bit strange. They might even think that people who do this have not 'let go' and are hanging on to their grief. There can be some judgmental thoughts about this kind of remembrance.

The truth is that whatever works for you is the right thing to do for you. Some people prefer not to remember - they can only get through those days by not thinking about their loss. Again, this is fine. 

First occasions are often hard so it is important to think about what you want to do and how you want to deal with things. You may want to completely break with your traditions and do something new or you may want to carry on with your familiar rituals.

My son passed a week before Christmas. On Christmas Eve, we watched one of his favourite comedy movies and toasted him with his favourite whisky.We laughed at the jokes and talked about how much he loved that film. We spoke as if he were in the room with us. On Christmas Day, we didn't have our usual meal but went to a friend's instead. That family had also lost a son some years before and our boys had gone to school together so we shared stories and remembered. That made my emptiness easier to bear and I'm grateful to my friend for including us. 

It does help to plan ahead. Think about what you are going to do for that special occasion. Honour the emptiness that your loved one has left with their passing. Give yourself, and others, the space to feel and do whatever they need to. 

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