Friday, November 30, 2007
There is a Christmas tree which stands 20 feet tall in the lobby of our office, its branches heavy with baubles and bows, presents stacked at its base ready to bring festive joy to those less fortunate.
But this week, the hundreds of fairy lights twinkling a welcome have failed to captivate the staff and visitors passing by. Instead, their gaze has fallen on a small side table displaying a soft-focus photograph of a middle-aged man and an open book half-filled with messages and signatures.
The man is a well-known journalist who died this week at the age of 46 after being diagnosed with brain tumours just two months ago. His wife and children, aged 11, 14 and 16, will find comfort in the words of condolence the book contains when it is presented to them after his funeral on Friday.
As everyone points out, Christmas will be tough for them this year as they begin to come to terms with the reality of grief and loss. The first Christmas without a daddy, the first New Year as a widow. They are not alone. Their story is repeated in households and communities all around us where people face the festive season lonely and hurting. The depth of their sadness somehow heightened by the focus on joy and celebration around them.
Christmas and New Year are a time of reflection; taking stock before embracing the future and planning new beginnings. For those who are hurting, either through death, divorce or the breakdown of a relationship, it’s a double-whammy. The season is made bittersweet because they cannot share it with the one person they want to be with.
So can I urge you to spare a thought for anyone in your world whose heart is heavy this Christmas? Shun your fear and embarrassment to include them in your plans – whatever that may look like.
Or just let them know that you’re there holding them up and cheering them on.