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……..then don’t feel bad. It was for me too. This year in particular I’ve found the whole event excruciating. Usually, despite my lack of Christmas Spirit, I can find moments of joy and appreciation for the holiday season. This year I can honestly say that if Christmas was canceled I wouldn’t have been sad. I can relate closely to the Dr. Seuss character, Grinch. Also, just like Grinch I’ve contemplated why and come to the conclusion that my hatred for Christmas isn’t about the celebrations, but my own sadness and anxiety. There are reasons for both. If Christmas was hard for you because of…….


I understand. I lost my beloved Grandfather in July. He was and still is the most important and influential male role model in my life. I inherited from him my dark sense of humor, my inability to hide my true feelings because my face says it all, and the necessity to always overdress for every occasion. His love and understanding of the ways of nature permeated throughout our family as did his wonderful storytelling and singing voice. He worked as a forester and fisherman all his life. He planted the trees in the woods where I grew up and played in for hours. The priest quoted this verse of a poem by Robert Frost written in 1922 during his eulogy:

Whose woods these are I think I know.   
His house is in the village though;   
He will not see me stopping here   
To watch his woods fill up with snow.

Without him around now, our extended family has grown silent. Because of him, the trauma my particular branch of the family suffered was bearable. Now it’s not because his twinkling eyes and brazen smile are not there to drown out the pain. If Christmas was hard for you because of…..


I understand. We buried my Grandfather during a covid lockdown. Eventually, he had to go live in a nursing home because he needed special care. It was months before I could see him because of the restrictions. Thankfully, I did get to see him a few times before he died but my grief and sadness had already set in. He eventually died alone, in a hospital room without anyone to hold his hand. I am angry and bitter about that. He deserved a better death. Much better.

Forced to find gratitude

Because that’s what we do in recovery right? Thankfully I know about gratitude or the unending pain of loss may be too much. Many things I’ve learned in recovery have and are helping me get through this Christmas and the loss of my hero. Being grateful for the joy he brought me and the eternal memories is a start. There are many memories that make me smile and giggle when I think of him. Gratitude for my belief in an afterlife and his unending energy brings me some comfort. Being present and responsible and participating in his funeral as the eldest grandchild was a moment of pride for me. Nothing brought me more pride than being his granddaughter.

I didn’t expect this essay to be about my Grandad Billy, but there you go. Nothing in life turns out as expected. I’m grateful to be able to have this platform that enables me to bleed and heal and I know I’m not alone in that sentiment.

Thank you for letting me share.



  1. Hayton Stephen Reply

    My parnter went into hospital before Christmas and is still there. The hospital is locking out family. I have a homeless daughter who cannot visit my home. I had another stay with me for 3 days before returning to her group home. Now I am HOME ALONE and unmotivated

    • Nicola O'Hanlon Reply

      So sorry to hear this. Words are hard to find when someone is suffering as much as you are right now. I hope the New Year brings you some peace and better times.

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