You will have gathered that I love the lead-up to Christmas. I enjoy making things for my friends, meeting up with them, even writing cards (but the last seems to take a very long time).
December is not a time of unmixed joy. On 6th December 1995 my Father died. On 5th December 2006 my Mother died. And on 30th December 2010 my only sister died. I have known what it is to wait and watch and weep with the dying when festivities are going on around. And I have known what it is to long to be left alone when the world seems to be full of crowds.
Each December I meet professionally with families who are bereaved. Christmas will never be quite the same again for them. In a year or two Christmas will again be joyful in a different way but that first year it's just a time to be endured as best as possible. Cards come through the door wishing "Merry Christmas" and the world is filled with festivity but all you want to do is crawl under a duvet.
Today I am meeting up with a friend who knew all my family - we've known each other nearly fifty years. I know she will remember and mention my parents gently and sensitively. We will laugh at memories of them just as we will laugh at the doings of my friend's grandchildren. We are each enriched by our families, both past and present.
This is not intended to be a maudlin post but rather to say that few people can think of "the right words" to say to someone who is sad at this time. The reason for that is simple: there are no "right words". That doesn't mean that the other person is unfeeling or uncaring, just that they too are human.
I've thought long and hard as to whether to hit the publish button for this post because I know that these aren't the right words either. However, I want to reach out to anyone who is sad - those who wait or weep or watch - and these words are all I have.