Can feel like the loneliest place on the planet.
The numbness as you watch the sparkle and the festivities around you…Where there was once a glow of excitement, there is now an emptiness so deep, it hurts to swallow.
The no-man’s land you find yourself in by default; not knowing whether to sing, cry, socialise or hibernate.
There is no rule-book on how to survive ‘The Most Wonderful Time of The Year’, when nothing at all feels wonderful and a part of your heart is missing.
When there is a hole in your life so wide you fear you will never feel warm or safe again.
How do you gather together and celebrate when there feels like nothing to raise a glass to? How do you gather up the courage to face the empty place at a the table or the absence on the gift list.
Or at least you don’t have to.
Everyone deals with loss differently.
Each member of each family will behave as their heart allows them.
Some will want to talk about their pain, gather together with loved ones and toast to the one who is missing. This will bring them a little comfort.
Others will retreat into themselves until they can safely qualify the agony they are experiencing. They will run away, catch a plane, avoid the holiday and the traditions and hide from the memories that tear at their breath with icy fingers.
There is no right and no wrong.
One thing we all should do, if we can, is to allow everyone to take it at their own pace. To retreat if they must, to talk if they need to. To scream, shout and cry if that eases their sorrow.
We must try to remember that grief is the price we pay for love, the stronger the love, the deeper the grief.
They say that grief is simply love with no place to go, and if that is true then perhaps some comfort can be gleamed from channeling even more love into those you still are blessed to be with.
Shower them with not only your love, but the love the person you are missing would want to bring, if they could.
Love, on their behalf.
If you can manage it, tell their stories too. Honour the traditions they upheld.
A life well lived is a life worth remembering and when the time is right and the pain is slightly less, a life worth celebrating.
Most importantly, be kind to yourself if you are facing this festive season without someone.
Your heart is broken and like a broken bone it will take time to work properly again.
But it will.
Let it rest.