If Christmas is hard...
Updated: Aug 4
Last December, 2019, I was messaging a dear insta friend. She knows how much I love Christmas, yet I know how much she finds it a difficult time of year, having lost her wonderful Mum. She is so generous of spirit and only wants others to enjoy this time of year and always shares in my joy. But in the same way, I want to ensure that I check in on her too and make sure she's ok. And it was on a day that I had been messaging her that I wrote this poem...
I grew up with a wonderful family. Christmas was the full package for me, the smell of the tree, the wonderful home-cooked dinner, grandparents coming to stay, Santa leaving stockings, you know, well into your twenties (ok, thirties). You get the idea. I feel so very lucky, and as a result, I am a massive fan of Christmas.
But there have been painful times in my life where I have felt the sting of it too. Sitting at a carol concert, I once counted the organ pipes desperately trying to create a distraction from the tears welling up inside me whilst trying to simultaneously join in with Away In A Manger with a smile on my face. It can feel so lonely experiencing any form of grief at this time of year, and it can also come with a dose of pressure to park your feelings and be merry. I am careful to say here, 'any form of grief' for there can be many things that cause pain, and sometimes those things are especially hard to cope with when no one is even aware of what's in your heart.
And so, back to messaging my dear friend on instagram, I knew she was suffering. I felt sad thinking of her feeling unhappy. Whenever I write, the words just come to me. And on this day, that is exactly what happened. I stopped and wrote down the poem, and when I'd finished, I sent them over to her in a DM and said I was thinking of her. She broke down into tears and said how much comfort they brought her. I asked if she thought it'd be a good thing to share and she said absolutely. I had a simple illustration to accompany it, and I uploaded it onto Instagram and Facebook on the 22nd December.
If Christmas is hard, If you’ve lost someone dear. Just look in your heart, And you’ll know they’re still here.
The star in the sky, The light falling snow. The robin outside, It seems like they know.
If this is a time, When you’re struggling through. Just do what you can, For what matters, is you.
There’s no need to be merry, There’s no need to bright. Just do what you can, It will all be alright.
I had a lot of comments and shares of that post. I happened to click through one of the Facebook shares so that I could comment to say thank you for sharing it. It was a mental health charity called 'Your Voice Cornwall' that had reposted it. As I clicked it, the stats caught my eye and I noticed it had picked up over 5000 reshares from their page and the comments were coming in thick and fast. I was blown away. It was Christmas Eve and I was sat in my pjs with a mug of coffee and started to read through all these unbelievably heartbreaking comments. The more I read, the more that comments like "My father died yesterday at 5am I am devastated. He loved Christmas and spent it with me and my children. It will be so hard tomorrow without him" became almost normal. I sat and replied to as many as I could. By Boxing Day there were over 2000 comments and 20000 reshares. So many people said how much comfort these words had provided, and I cannot desribe to you how much of an honour that is. "My mum passed away this morning. Totally heartbroken. Lovely words to come up on my screen today". How can my tiny words touch someone of the day their Mum has passed away.
I realised that just in this small corner of the internet, there were so many people suffering. I decided that next Christmas (2020) I would find a way to get this poem to them in a card if it could bring some comfort to someone going through a difficult time. I thought how jarring tradition cards could be if you feel far from being merry and bright. I thought it would be lovely for someone to feel seen, loved, comforted and still included in the festive period. If it makes just one person feel a little more at peace this Christmas, well then it is totally, totally worth it for me.
It felt fitting to use sales of this card to raise some money for Your Voice Cornwall. They provide many wonderful support services for women who are affected by a variety of mental health issues, and I am really glad to be able to help them with this card. 50p from each card will go directly to Your Voice.
I mostly share the joyous side of Christmas online. I love the snow, I love the twinkly lights, I love the hot chocolates by the tree and time with family. But please know that if you're suffering especially over Christmas, you're not alone, and you are very much in my thoughts.
If you know someone who you'd like to send this to, you you can buy the card by clicking here
You can read more about Your Voice Cornwall here