I am in London as I write this month’s column, I love this time of year Regents Park looks amazing with its vibrant colours of the leaves changing and falling, people going about their day, walking their dogs, or jogging and those sipping coffee on their way to work, it’s just another day. And here I am sat beside my sister’s hospital bed in Harley Street as once more she has another round of gruelling treatment in her battle against cancer. Nothing quite prepares you as you watch someone you love suffer, helpless and sad and still remaining upbeat as I tend to her basic needs of getting her coffee and trying to make her laugh, we do this in sequence we ebb and flow in the realms of this journey called cancer. These are clinical trials that she is having not to save her life, her cancer has spread but our hope is to lengthen her now short life, and her wish with these trials is to help others in the future, as without people like my sister going on these trials advancement towards a cure would not be possible, what a wonderful gift she is giving.
So as we approach Christmas it would be foolish of me not to speak to all of you that may have lost someone you love this year, time stands still when you are grieving and you just hide yourself away, unable to function in day to day activities wondering how you will survive without the one you love. Grief is an essential part of the healing process, there is no quick fix sadly, and it really is OK not to be OK. Surround yourself with all the people that love and support you, and don’t put too many demands on yourself, particularly at Christmas when people are expected to be happy, just run with how you are feeling and be open and honest to others and yourself.
One thing that I do know however powerless we feel at times of loss, however dark it gets there is always hope for better and brighter days, no one can take away the memories that you shared with the one you love, and they will always be carried in your heart. And it’s absolutely fine to remember that grief has no rules and no time limit, and in many ways lasts as long as love does, forever. Anyone who has lost a loved one knows that you don’t “recover” instead you learn to incorporate their absence and all those memories into your life and channel all that energy towards others, and eventually all that grief will walk beside you and not consume you.
So let’s remember all those amazing people this Christmas that give up their time in helping others, the doctors and nurses, the voluntary organisations that help the homeless and the elderly. I am an advocate for the Salvation Army who do tremendous work this time of year, and the Samaritans who are on call 24 hours a day for those who feel they have nowhere to turn.
I wish for each and every one of you that read this column a wonderful Christmas…