Christmas is a time for friends and family, for presents and parties, for delicious food, for reading books and watching movies. However, many people find Christmas difficult. Maybe it reminds them of a loved one they miss, or they are simply quiet souls and the festivities just feel too much. Others watch the celebrations and wonder: why am I not having fun? Why do I feel numb inside? Why do I find it so hard to smile these days?
A few weeks ago I thought I’d lost my son who is in his early twenties. It sounds dramatic but he went missing for four days and wasn’t answering his mobile or responding to my increasingly frantic texts. When I rang some of his friends and they said he hadn’t been in contact with him for days either, I started to get seriously worried.
Eventually my sister found him. We talked to him together (she is a kind person and a great listener) and he opened up about how sad he was feeling, how alone and out of control. He is now in a much better place, starting to see a counsellor and keeping in regular contact with his friends and family. But it brought it home to me just how important it is to look out for people who are feeling vulnerable or sad. I am grateful that my son is OK and I give thanks for him every day.
If you have a friend or a brother or sister who hasn’t smiled for a while, who spends an increasing amount on time on his or her own, please reach out to them. Ask them are they OK and keep asking. Tell them you are there for them, to listen when they are ready to talk. If you are seriously worried, ask a parent, or an aunt, or an adult you trust for help.
We need to look after each other, especially at Christmas. A simple ‘Are you OK?’ can make all the difference.
I wish you all a very peaceful and happy Christmas with your loved ones. I hope 2017 is kind to you all.
Yours in writing,