I shared a post recently on my personal Facebook feed to help family and friends with Christmas cards this year. A reminder that it was okay to include Jessica’s name. That phrases such as “and remembering…” or “never forgetting…” do not offend a bereaved parent, but are welcomed. Jessica may no longer be physically with us, but she is still, and will always be, part of our family. That missing name from cards always hits me. Seeing it though will often make me smile, but yes it can bring me to tears too.
Sometimes I think people are reluctant or afraid to mention Jessica because they don’t want to upset me. Emotions, particularly big ones, can make people nervous.
Making me cry does not mean you’ve upset me.
You didn’t make me sad because you said her name. That sadness is already there. It never goes away; it is part of who I am now. You saying her name meant that she was remembered by you, that she is not forgotten.
Maybe I cried because I was so thankful to hear that beautiful name spoken by someone else. I might have cried because you triggered a beautiful memory that is now forever bittersweet. I might have cried because you just caught me at a moment when my emotions were too big to hold back.
You did not remind me that Jessica died. I never forget it. There is not a moment when she does not linger at the edge of my thoughts. She is a constant presence in my mind. I might have cried because I miss her, because it breaks my heart that she lives only in my memories. Thank you for reminding me though that she also lives in yours.
Living our everyday lives without Jessica is hard. Milestones are harder. The festive season will be very hard – especially this first one. Christmas is supposed to be a time of joy and celebration. It is hard to feel on the outside of it all.
Last week I went to a Christmas wreath making workshop. All around me, people were chatting about Christmas, singing along to the Christmas songs playing in the background as they made colourful wreaths to hang on their front doors. I was quiet, seemingly just concentrating on making mine. Most people there did not know me; did not know that I was making my wreath for my daughter’s forever bed. They did not need to know; I didn’t want to take away from the festive atmosphere. But still I longed for one person who knew me; one person to just say Jessica’s name.
We are finding our own ways to carry Jessica with us; to make her a special part of our Christmas still. We will only be sending a few cards but she will be included on them. Our tree will be topped with a special angel and we will hang some extra decorations in honour of our beautiful girl. We will try and make Christmas as magical as we can for Sophie and Thomas but Jessica will be part of it too. There will be tears and sadness; having to take things moment by moment and be gentle with ourselves.
I promise you one thing though. Saying Jessica’s name does not add to our sadness. Hearing her name, seeing it written on a card is a precious gift. It is a reminder that Jessica is still loved, still remembered, still part of our family. Hearing her name mentioned, having those memories triggered helps bring her to life once again. I will never grow tired of hearing it.