Tuesday, 18 December 2012

Gemma: A grief soaked Christmas

Christmas is a time of love great joy and celebration in my family; we have long followed in the Christmas traditions and enjoyed so much food our bellies ache and played cards games and board games late into the night while drinking cheap bucks fizz and enjoying the close unit of our family. From time to time over the years my family members have missed Christmas day as we have tried to do individual things; it never lasts. There is no Christmas like our family Christmas and we find that instead of getting smaller the family grows at Christmas time as we will each invite someone to share in the warmth of our family. While occasionally family members are missing briefly we are always certain that it won’t last and next year they will be at home for Christmas.

Two years ago Christmas was forever changed for me, I had a secret and Isaac was on board. Two years ago amidst the laughter and smiles of our shared family love I announced that we would have a third generation to spend Christmas with us next year; gather round for the family picture and say something new “Gemma’s pregnant” my family echoed and then I waited, and waited and finally the words registered and a burst of delight rippled across my family.

It was the happiest day of my life; Christmas would become bigger and better as my parents walked in the shoes of grandparents and my siblings became Aunties and Uncles, I would be a mother and spend Christmas in a rush of present buying and keeping my child away from the tree, the lights and watch amused as they spent most of the day playing with the paper and boxes that the expensive presents arrived in; just as I had done as a child.

I was in a bubble, I can remember that Christmas day like it is yesterday down to tiny minute details of the day and yet it seems to be a dream as the bubble burst and I fell hard and I have never recovered from the fall; I’m not sure I ever really will.

Last Christmas was my first Christmas without Isaac but I was still carefully numb so while I was there and the day passed I was still shut down; carefully closed to the painful truth that Isaac was missing. I had not realised last year that he was gone forever; I was so set on getting through one event at a time, after Christmas I had lots more firsts to work through :- first new year, first date of loss, so I was focused on getting through, on grieving in the very best way that I could.

This year is different; and I think that it is worse for me. I should be approaching 20 weeks pregnant with my second child, a bright 18 month old at my feet keeping me moving and tired and excited about Christmas. Instead I am still recovering from an early miscarriage that happened over 10 weeks ago, physically I am still bleeding which has left me run down and exhausted which adds to my emotional vulnerability that Christmas was already going to bring, mentally I have had to accept the loss of a second little star and accept the loss and absence of Isaac all over again; a friend told me that the second year was better in some ways but for her harder in others because you have done all of the firsts and have to accept that they are forever missing from your lives. 

This Christmas I am trapped in the shadow of a life I used to know; I have neither moved forwards with the tentative steps my second pregnancy should have bought and I cannot go back to the life I had before Isaac.

 I find it strange how much I can miss someone who was never physically here in my day to day life and yet I find the absence of him all the more strongly for the silence; I have decorated a tree for Isaac and instead of the joyful struggle I imagine that it would have been with Isaac instead each decoration I placed on the tree hurt, I cried through the decoration of my tree and his little tree just as I have cried each day since that has passed. I look at his picture and imagine what he would have looked like and what he would have sounded like; and I have decorated the tree for him in case he can look down and see. We have bought gifts for him for Christmas, unlike last year we have not wrapped these as those gifts remain wrapped in his memory box where we were unable to bring ourselves to open them without him.  We have learned and bought practical gifts for his baby garden that we placed straight out, my husband is glad I found something that I liked for his garden he knows how sad I am this time of year and how much sadder I would have been had I been unable to buy him a gift. 

They tell me that perhaps Isaac chose us as his parents and I hope that he can see how much he is still loved and I try to understand the lessons he was sent to teach me. For him I can laugh and still enjoy some of the cheer of Christmas and yet there are also quiet moments of reflection where I think of him and my heart is still broken, private moments where I know his Daddy thinks of him. I think if I could have chosen a family I would have chosen mine, and I would have chosen Christmas time to be a part of it.

Christmas is still a time of love great joy and celebration in my family, I have wonderful memories that Isaac left me of that Christmas day and I am grateful to him for those, but Christmas it also a time for quiet mourning for me on the little life that made such an impact on my heart.

Merry Christmas Isaac, Mummy loves you each and every moment that my heart beats and I will think about your star shining brightly on Christmas day and the happiness you bought us., I hope one day we can celebrate a Christmas with your brother or sister’s laughter filling the day and knowing that they are safely watched over by you as you do with us xxx


  1. What a beautiful, sad, heartfelt post Gemma. Very emotional so thank you and well done for sharing it here.

    We are facing our 2nd Christmas without Molly and 1st without Grace. Can't help thinking about how different life could have been.

    Like you, Christmas has good moments for us with family but also, as you say, it's a time of mourning.

    Wishing you a peaceful Christmas xx

  2. Beautiful and sad. Thinking of you both. We are facing our 3rd Christmas without Ethan. For me the hardest yet. The 1st i was still aching with raw grief. The passed with hears broken but still hope that it was a dream...this year it's real. Instead of him being closer he's getting further away. Further from my last kiss, last cuddle, last time i told him how much i loved him. I live my life as full ad i can. It's hard but somehow i manage. It will never be the same. Asked when i think i will be over his death...i replied 100years....by then i will be with him
    Snuggled in my arms. Forever my little boy cx

  3. Gemma - I can't tell you how much this post moved me. Thanl you so much for sharing this with us. I have been thinking of you, Isaac, and your little star alot recently. You are never far from my thoughts xx