Remember when....

#RememberWhen is the hashtag for Children's Grief Awareness week in the UK.

The week starts with the global day for remembering children who are grieving the loss of a parent or sibling.  It always takes place in the run up to Christmas/the holiday season, after all it's this  time of the year that the sense of loss can be most poignant.
For children the run up to Christmas is about anticipation, fun...for our family it is a constant reminder of the two huge, gaping holes that are in our lives.

Unfairly...not that there is any fairness in it all anyway...all of our significant anniversaries fall at this time of year...starting even more unfairly with the anniversary at the end of October of my own father's untimely death from the same cancer that killed Andy.  November is Andy's birthday, then December is the anniversary of his death followed a week later by Daisy's birthday and of course her most favourite time of the year, Christmas.....

It will be three years since Andy's death this December, two years since Daisy died in January.  Time moves on and we are learning to replace the memories of their last, traumatic hours with happy memories.

I was 32 when my dad died, I had two very small children and I was devastated.  At least I was grown up, at least my dad had seen me grow up.  My children were all under eighteen when their father died, cheated of so many new memories and times together.

And while they were so young when Andy died they were even younger when Daisy was little and they wrestled with the anticipatory grief of knowing that their adored baby sister would not grow up and grow old and that she would die in childhood.

According to the Childhood Bereavement Network one in 29 children in schools are bereaved of a parent or sibling, 24,000 parents die each year leaving behind dependent children.  My children had a double whammy.  They had such an early education in death and dying however that talking and sharing happy memories of times we spent together as a family, while not easy, is definitely something we do well at home.

We spent years appreciating the importance of precious time together, savouring our moments, I know Andy and I did the right thing in being open and honest with the children about Daisy because it has given them incredible resilience and strength as they face adulthood without their father and sister.

Anyone who has experienced time Chez Nimmo will know that we don't wallow in grief, we experience it, but we also do a great line in trench humour and share many happy and funny memories .  It is this openness and sharing that gets us through the dark days....

There are so many memories, the jokes, the funny sayings, the times we spent together.....

We remember Daisy's sense of humour; how she would find it hilarious if someone tripped or dropped something.  Her obsession with Christmas...which started in February each year when she would suddenly remember that Santa had forgotten to bring her something from her extensive Christmas list and her insistence that the Singing Hands Christmas CD would be played on every car journey from June onwards.

We remember Andy's incredible culinary skills, the fact that his recipe for lime and coconut loaf died with him.  His obsession with the precise loading of the dishwasher and his ability to tell the best stories.

Each of my children carries precious memories of special times;

The times Jules and Andy spent camping and cooking over open fires together, when Andy drove Xanthe to her prom in our camper van, decorating it with fairy lights and a glitter ball, when Theo had to endure Andy's enthusiastic singing as they watched their beloved Arsenal play.

We remember the nicknames Daisy had for the children;Yoyo, Cookie and George (as in Peppa Pig's little brother) and her fondness for role play, insisting at one time that we only call her Wendy!

So many happy memories, so many happy times....we knew the clock was ticking, we filled that time with a lifetime of memories.

When Andy died I spent many hours looking at pictures of him with Daisy, she drew such comfort from remembering the happy times with her daddy. She had taught us to live in the moment, to enjoy our time together, she taught us so much.

Children's Grief Awareness week reminds us that not everything is perfect, that not every family is together as they look forward to Christmas.  We are, as always, determined to remember the happy times we did have...there were so many happy times. And there continue to be happy times as I watch my children grow and flourish, resilient and strong.

In remembering we keep our loved ones alive, we make them whole in our lives, they continue to live on.  After Andy died a bereaved friend reminded me that love never dies.  By remembering Daisy and Andy we remember that love we had and continue to have, and it's that love that sustains us through our grief.

You can find more information on Children's Grief Awareness week here

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