Looking back now, it’s hard to believe that we are just around the corner from our sixth Christmas without our little girl.
We were at Millie’s resting place yesterday and a lovely lady came to talk to me who recognised me from a newspaper. We got chatting and she told me that she was visiting her son who has in grieving terms, not long been buried, she was so sad. It hurt me to see her in so much pain and knowing that there’s nothing that you can do to take it away. Her son was a lot older than Millie, in his twenties but still no age to lose your life and a parent should never have to go through the indescribable pain of losing a child, no matter how old or young they are or in fact, you are.
Instead of preparing ourselves for Christmas by hunting out the latest gifts that our children want, an extremely large number of us are hunting out flowers or plants that might just last outside over Christmas a little longer than usual, we are placing little Christmas Trees and outdoor lights around our children’s resting places and we are laminating cards to last in the rain or laying them down knowing that within 24 hours they will be destroyed but hoping that our children will have read our words in them, in some strange and mysterious way that they are involved with our lives.
For the first three years after we lost Millie, we didn’t celebrate Christmas. We didn’t put a tree up, we didn’t see any family or friends or exchange gifts or cards. We didn’t acknowledge it, it was just another day to Dan and I.
I don’t ever think Christmas will be a huge thing for us, it hurts too much. It’s hard to make plans with other people as I can’t predict how many times each of us will break down and cry and many people (thankfully) cannot understand why this happens. We’re more comfortable just having our own little Christmas in our own home.
The fourth year was different, we put a tree up and did a little bit of Christmas because we now had Leo. We couldn’t not do it for him. We’ve always said that we don’t want Leo’s (and now Asher’s) lives to be any different or miss out on on things because of what happened to Millie.
Christmas is something that Leo and Asher’s friends will celebrate and take part in and we don’t want our children to feel left out and not to be able to enjoy this time of year, especially as they get older.
I’m not religious, not at all. I did wonder,like many of us do and we had Millie christened but once she passed away, that was it for me. I couldn’t believe in something so cruel, something that could take away a child from loving parents, so as you can imagine Christmas will never be associated with religion in our house.
There will never be any Christmas scenes, any prayers and certainly no bibles. It will always just be a fun day for our children where they get some presents and are allowed to eat more chocolate than usual!
It’s extremely hard that first Christmas after you lose a child. Everything you see or hear, tears your heart out. Children getting excited looking at toys or coming out from visiting Santa, families enjoying big family Christmas meals and songs on the radio that can make you spontaneously burst out crying in the middle of a supermarket after playing just a few notes or words.
Waking up on Christmas morning, there are lots of tears before any of the fun. The tears fall as soon as we wake up for the missing part of our family, our precious daughter. We cannot help but think about how we won’t see her face running smiling into our bedroom, or the shock on her face when she sees that Father Christmas has been or how happy she realises she can be when she can have chocolate for breakfast. None of it. We never got to see it, we never will and we still miss it like it’s an existing memory. That’s the thing with us though, we don’t have any Christmas memories with Millie because we never got to see her first one. All we know, is everything that she will miss out on, everything she will never get to see or experience and although these thoughts are with us every day in everything that we do, they became ever so more prominent at special times of the year.
We’ll visit Millie a couple of times on Christmas Day, normally in the morning and then in the evening to light some candles. She’ll be left a card and lots of gorgeous flowers from us and at home, she’ll have a Christmas Stocking, just like we all will. Although it won’t be filled with special treats like all the other ones, it’s still hers and it will still be there.
We’ve also got our other little star, the baby I miscarried in November 2016. I love my family so much, but it’s hard not to see what should have been, that we should have 4 children all laughing around the table with us, that there should be twice as many presents in our living room from Father Christmas and that there should be twice as much mess as there will be. I’d love to see twice as much mess and twice as much chaos in our home at any time because that would mean that we wouldn’t have any sad memories from the past and that all our children would be here with us.
If you are lucky enough to be able to celebrate Christmas with all your children around you, send a little love to the people that can’t. Christmas is an emotional time for anyone who has lost a loved one but a Christmas without a child that should be there is unbearable as you think about all the missing futures that they should have and even just the missing smile from around the table.
As much as we will laugh, smile and play with our little ones on the day, a piece of us will be with our missing children and there’ll always be a part of us that can’t quite get to that happy place that we all crave to get to, that perfect life that we all want.
I sign Christmas cards (any cards) off with Millie’s name in them, she’s a huge part of our family and always will be. Some people might find that odd and think that we shouldn’t do it, but I don’t care. Unless you have lost a child, I don’t care for your opinion when it comes to how we should we grieve or how we should act. Losing a child, is not the same as any other type of loss or any other type of grief, far from it.
Six Christmases down the line since we lost Millie and we are still trying to figure out what and how we want to do things without Millie here.
My heart is with all those parents right now who are experiencing their first Christmas without their child. The pain of all those firsts is a pain that will never leave me and will always hurt. I wish that I could tell these parents that the pain will go away but it doesn’t,not at all.
You learn to live with the pain and your life is built around it. You learn how to deal with your pain to get you through these special days and you will discover what is the right thing for you to do on these days and whatever you decide that is, is perfect – for you and always will be.
If I could line you all up and give each and every one of you a hug this Christmas, I would … I feel your pain, I feel your miss.
From one grieving parent to another xxx