"If there's anything we can do"

(21 Posts)
Cloakedinmystery Thu 24-Oct-13 10:02:26

NCed for this. I sort of wanted to put it in AIBU but I'm not sure I'm feeling robust enough.

We lost a child this year. At the time we got cards and messages and everyone said 'please tell us if there's anything we can do' and we didn't really because what could they do? But we did say to some people that we'd like company on occasion because we'd got very isolated while our child was very ill. That worked out a bit but far more people just carried on and forgot about it all, like you'd expect.

But it's coming up to Christmas and not one single member of either of our families is willing to spend it with us. It's DS (3) first 'proper' Christmas too, so perhaps that would make people interested. But our relatives are either busy with other bits of family or want to stay at home. When I got upset with one person, she said we could all go and spend it at her house, but she doesn't really 'do' Christmas or cook Christmas lunch, which didn't sound too tempting. We'd also like to be at home. Not even DS's grandparents are coming, as they want to stay at home. We just wanted a big jolly Christmas to hide the missing place at the table. Friends are also too busy, and I understand they have lives of their own.

I feel very let down, and dreading it all.

Habbibu Thu 24-Oct-13 10:20:07

Oh, cloaked, I'm so sorry. That's rotten. You're very understanding about the "forget" bit - that still makes me rage. I wonder if you could do something out of the ordinary, like go out for lunch or the afternoon. I do understand that that really isn't what you'd wanted, but might be better than being at home the whole day. You poor love. I'm so sorry you lost your child.

Avondale Thu 24-Oct-13 10:24:37

Have you actually invited people or told them what you want? People don't know what to do sometimes.
Or perhaps you could do as Habbibu suggested and go out for Xmas Day and invite people for big Boxing Day party? I know most people don't do much on Boxiing Day and it might give you something to focus on and look forward to p, to get you through this first Xmas. So sorry for your loss

Cloakedinmystery Thu 24-Oct-13 10:27:38

We have invited them and said explicitly what we want. One person said 'you have to understand that people have other calls on them'. People are busy on Boxing Day too. We want to keep things normal for the other children as much as possible. I was wondering if our friends just thought we were boring (we are quite) but I find our families' attitudes quite hard to understand.

WowOoo Thu 24-Oct-13 10:28:14

It does sound like you've been let down when you need your family the most. Sorry to hear you've lost a child.

A change of scene might work out well. Would you consider going away or going to visit them instead, perhaps after or before actual Christmas?

Habbibu Thu 24-Oct-13 10:29:35

Bloody hell. That's grim. I wish I knew what to suggest.

Cloakedinmystery Thu 24-Oct-13 10:34:34

The grandparents invited us to them but it's very cramped there (we have a spare room for them but we are all in one room at their place) and they really go mad on presents which we have spent lots of time over the years trying to damp down with the other kids and find a bit overwhelming.

I was reading a blog by someone else whose child died this year and they said how lovely it was that so many friends and family were rallying round this Christmas and they had so many invitations and so much to do. And we can't find a single person to share our Christmas. We tried inviting a big group of friends for a pre-Christmas dinner, again telling them we wanted to keep busy, and only one even replied to the email. We tried to organise a Boxing Day lunch but people are still busy. I think we must be very unlikable people.

Last year our child was very ill over Christmas so it was miserable for us and we wanted to make up for it a bit. We've told people that too.

PloddingDaily Thu 24-Oct-13 10:40:57

I'm so sorry for your loss, & for the way people haven't stepped up when you need them to. It's hard...I guess your friends might be under pressure from their families (if they're anything like ours hmm) & sometimes it's like people are almost afraid of grief like it's contagious or something?! hmm

I'm scratching my head trying to think of a useful suggestion...the daft thing is there must be loads of people out there who would love an invite for Christmas (thinking perhaps elderly widows / widowers at church /local care home kind of thing) but if you don't know them it might be even more awkward - I could imagine someone like my MiL going all 'Spanish Inquisition' about what had happened & making things far harder to deal with.

I think the idea of going out for lunch or a good walk is nice, or if you've got family away from the local area could you maybe arrange to skype / call different people throughout the day - that might help keep things 'busy' (which I guess will help?)

thanks I wish I could think of something that would solve this for you...I really hope that the day is a good one despite the rawness & that you are all ok. Xx

PloddingDaily Thu 24-Oct-13 10:47:32

Ps...when my mum died one of the most hurtful things was the way people seemed to disappear off the scene at warp speed. In hindsight, I think people just don't know what to say or do, are worried about 'making things worse' etc...we just don't seem to deal with bereavement well here. What I'd say is it's not you - it's hurtful but I really don't think it's personal, it's more of a selfish, almost unconscious self-preservation reflex or something. sad

hope that makes sense, I know it doesn't change anything but honestly, I'm sure you are a lovely family - it's just most people are not extraordinarily good at dealing with grief. Xx

ghostonthecanvas Thu 24-Oct-13 10:58:55

Can I suggest that you follow up with the person that doesn't really 'do' Christmas. I would chat to her about you coming to her place and doing what it takes to make everything christmassy. It could be fun. You decotate, plan a lunch menu with her. Put the Christmas into her Christmas, if you see what I mean. it could work? It is difficult to put your life back together and I hope things get better for you and yours x

Cloakedinmystery Thu 24-Oct-13 12:21:24

Thank you for the kind posts. I was upsetting myself a bit so went off for a while.

I am so sorry for others that have experienced grief. I lost my parents young so knew some of what to expect about grief fear. We are, I think, not scarily sad, but maybe you'd need to know us to find that out, and people run away first.

My Christmas hating relative is a longstanding refusenik. She can and has put up with it for the sake of others but it always feels forced and I don't want to do that to her.

Cloaked, I promise I am trying to help. However it all sounds a bit 'on your terms or else'. GPS get presents but you say you try to damp down. People offer to host you but one woman isn't interesting and gps a bit small. It's not much info but then with the back story of being your first Xmas perhaps it's scaring people?

I am sure people love you. I am sure they wish to help. Perhaps lessen the control a little? It's a roast at someone's house nothing more. Stuff the size. Make it fun, games etc. even the grumpiest of us often join in.

I am so so sorry for your loss.

Cloakedinmystery Thu 24-Oct-13 12:57:27

Sorry, I can see how it might. I genuinely don't want to put my Christmas hating relative out, and we want to make it as proper Christmassy for the other kids, and it just wouldn't be. She's lovely and has had a hard time herself and it would feel like we were imposing too much on her.

And the grandparents, well, yes. Thing is, at their place, Christmas is entirely on THEIR terms. And it is hard work. With five of us in one bedroom.

I suppose to be completely honest, we would like it on our terms. Why not? We've had the year from hell and we'd like to spend Christmas in our own home, having as much fun as possibly, with the support of our families or friends. I honestly didn't realise that would be so much to ask. We haven't really asked for much else. We cared for a very sick child for a long time with very little support other than from professionals, and never made a fuss, and this seemed like the 'easy' thing to ask.

Cloakedinmystery Thu 24-Oct-13 13:01:48

I want to say, it really isn't that my relative isn't interesting. I love her very much. I would just feel guilty the whole time and it would be another strain.

Cloakedinmystery Thu 24-Oct-13 13:11:31

Oh and that the grandparents live a long way away so it's not just one night there. We will see them after Christmas and usually stay 4/5 days to make the journey with kids worthwhile.

Gingerbreadbaker Thu 24-Oct-13 17:22:02

First of all, it sounds like you have had a dreadful time, and I am truly sorry for your loss, and your pain. I assume the GPs are your DP's parents. I think he needs to call them and tell them you all NEED them this Christmas and you NEED them with you, at your house. If he makes it absolutely, transparently crystal clear that you would like them to come to you and you will help them in whichever way to get to you, then if they still say "No", you know where you stand. In which case, I would invent your own Christmas for your DC. Sleighbells sneakily rung outside their bedroom window on Christmas Eve, flour footprints near the front door on Christmas morning...letter to Santa written and replied to. Mince pies and sherry left out for santa with a carrot for Rudolph (which mysteriously disappear overnight, with a bite taken out of carrot). It can be fun to make your own family traditions, and it can be very special for a 3 year old. On Christmas Eve, make your own crackers with him. And yes - why not get out and go out for lunch if you can afford it. Then come home and play silly games. You are a family, a grieving one, and for my money, family is Christmas. Good luck.

ThePinkOcelot Sat 26-Oct-13 22:31:04

I am so sorry for your loss. I second Ginger's suggestions. Make Christmas for yourselves. Watch trash telly and play games together, as a small family unit. Xx

minglemanglemunchkin Sun 27-Oct-13 07:45:43

Agree with everything above. We had a serious illness in the family a few years ago. After months of hospital vigil by Christmas I was emotionally exhausted. I controversially rejected family plans (including spending time with the recovering family member) as I desperately needed to look after myself. A friend who had been through hard times suggested our two families spend it together. The day was a total break from tradition but that meant there was no stress or pressure of 'doing things right'. We drank, ate, drank, opened presents, drank, played games and had a wonderful time. I wasn't sure what to expect before I went, but it turned out to be one of the best Christmases ever and really helped me re-energise for the coming year. I hope you come up with a plan which works for you!

Cloakedinmystery Sun 27-Oct-13 20:04:06

I'm sorry to have disappeared for a while. I'm really grateful for your answers and also feeling a bit better about it all. We would have loved to spend the day with friends but they are all committed. Nevertheless we shall have a nice time and make plans around the day itself. Last year we had three A&E trips around Christmas and many other crises so this year we shall enjoy relaxing, watching some TV and family time together.

allotmenteer Tue 05-Nov-13 17:46:46

Cloaked - I am so very sorry for your loss. Christmas is such a truly difficult time isn't it. Our precious DGS was welcomed into the world with such love and joy on Christmas Eve 2011. His daddy and mummy had to make the hardest and most loving decision that any parents have to make just a few days later. So for us, last Christmas was the lead up to his first birthday and it was so, so difficult. I did not want to 'do' Christmas - even though it is my favourite time of year - I did not want to send cards, celebrate, buy presents, anything. Christmas itself was almost surreal and really passed in a blur for me. My OH and I just wanted to spend time with our DS and DDIL but also did not want to intrude on them either - everything we did was either right or wrong for them or for us and really all we needed to do (and were able to do) was to talk and hold each other - even tho that was not enough (iyswim). And now it starts again....

I'm sorry, I think I've hijacked your post - but what I really want to say is that the people to concentrate on are yourselves and your LO - be gentle on yourselves, make it the best day you can for you and it will be perfect. Don't worry about other people or try to see things in what they say/do or don't say/do - it is probably that they just don't know how to deal with what you have been through and are just glad they are not walking your path. We do, we are and we'll hold your hand - and not just for Christmas day xx

TheOldestCat Wed 06-Nov-13 00:16:56

Bollocks to your Christmas-hating relation and your other family and friends. They should be there for you - to do what is right for YOU on your terms, whether that's be with you or give you space or whatever, no matter what they've already planned or want.

We were there for DH's parents the first Christmas after their daughter died and quite right too, changing our plans (to take our baby to my parents for their first Christmas as grandparents). We did the right thing - to be with those that were bereaved and in pain (and I hope to god it helped them; it helped DH, grieving his sister).

I am sorry for the loss of your child and to allotmenteer for your DGS and to all of you.

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