I had a phone call today, completely out of the blue. My aunt has died.
Although I was very fond of her it was a difficult relationship. She was married to my maternal uncle, whom I love and see often, but they were divorced almost 60 years ago and she disappeared from our lives. It was many years later that my parents managed to contact her again, so from time to time I visited, but, as she lived over 300 miles away, mostly kept in touch via letters and the odd phone call. I last spoke to her after her 90th birthday in August. Last week I posted her Christmas card, and I was going to phone her this evening. Sadly her brother phoned at lunchtime to say that she had had a stroke and quietly slipped away.
I would like to be able to tell my mother, sadly it won’t mean anything. She won’t remember the happy times we all spent together nor will she remember her name. To be honest, she may not even remember that I have visited, but visit I will. I’ve left a message on my brother’s phone, and no doubt he will ring me at some point, but as he is younger than me his memories will be vastly different and he will feel much further removed from the event than I do.
Now, the object of this post is not to ask for sympathy, but it does bring bereavement nicely into the Christmas picture. This morning, while I was out walking, I met a friend – actually the mother of an old school friend of our son. She is the same age as me, but unlike me has no grandchildren in spite of having two sons. The younger (our son’s friend) is married but so far childless, his brother, however, died in 5 years ago in December in horrendous circumstances. As you can imagine he is uppermost in her thoughts at the moment, and, although she misses him every day, her sense of loss at this time of year is enormous. She hides away because she knows that others don’t want to see her distress because they no longer know what to say.
Grief takes a long time to work its way through. Sometimes it never goes. It’s easy to talk to someone about their loss immediately after it has happened, and then to move on – after all, life is for the living, isn’t it?
Please make a point of making Christmas just a little more bearable for someone this year. Instead of passing on the other side of the road – or scurrying past – or just ignoring them – take some time to visit and talk about a lost one. Husbands missing wives, wives missing husbands, parents missing children, children missing parents.
Probably not the post you were expecting from me today, but please remember that memories aren’t just for Christmas. Spread a little happiness – it lasts much longer than Santa.