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A Christmas Plan

I wanted to write a blog about chronic pain and what partners need to know…. But, with this season fast approaching and more and more people I know experiencing a death of a loved one…. I felt like this one was better suited. [Stay tuned for an amazing blog that will help your partner understand what you wish them to know about chronic pain:) ]



Marley died at 4.5yrs old Feb 2 2018 in a sever hi-way collision that she and I were in. A man lost control of his vehicle, came into our lane and hit us head on at hi-way speeds. She died instantly. I spent 4 months in the hospital recovering, learning how to walk again and 3 months living with family as I could not fully take care of a home or myself. It took another 5 months after that before I could even consider having my two other children even 50% of the time as I was still in extreme pain, I still got exhausted, needed A LOT of sleep and rest. I COULD NOT take care of two kids [10 and 13], myself and be able to do all my therapies for recovery that I needed to do. I needed house cleaning services and meal prep services because I could not manage without having extreme pain if I tried.


In that time line there were birthdays within a month of the collision and you can only imagine the lack of celebrating that was done at that time… We tried, but definitely was overshadowed and filled with grief. Easter also fell in there and I was FINALLY allowed out on a weekend pass instead of a day pass. Friends and family helped fill easter baskets with movie passes, chocolate, shopping gift cards and little nicknack jewellery for them…. It was the first major holiday without Marley, but it was also a little bit of excitement because I could be out of the hospital and just enjoy my girls…



Then there was my birthday in the summer time. I was out for a month now. I had bought train tickets to go to a little small town that was 6 hours away and we were going to stay with friends. We were going to go on an adventure with no supervisors. Just Summer, River and myself for the first time since the collision. We desperately needed this time together. To be alone with one another…. Our train was delayed by six hours when we first arrived, so we decided to go back home, sleep some more and then return to the station. It would be another two hours waiting when we got there, but that was ok. 30 min before we were to board I needed to use the bathroom. Backpack on, crutches in hand, phone and wallet in pockets what should only take 5 min walking there took me 10 minutes. Did my thing and headed back to my girls with my hands full of all the things. Half way back I realized I had left my phone and my wallet on the ledge in the bathroom stall. I tried to hurry back, when I got there…. It was gone. I burst into tears. I asked people coming and going out of the bathroom if they had seen it. I went to security. My phone…. My pictures of Marley…. All gone. I had no ID, no credit card, no bank cards… nothing. We could board the train, but I would have no way of buying food, paying for accommodations that were needed… Nothing. The mini trip that all three of us were desperately looking forward to… Stolen. Just like our lives… Just like Marley was from us…. When the kids would ask… what would you like for your birthday…. A mother only wants ALL of her children with her…. How could I look at them and say “I just want Marley back and nothing else… You can’t give me that.” I didn’t say it… Never have when that question is asked of me whether it is my girls asking me or others…. There is nothing I want. With the help of family we ended up having a “staycation” At West Edmonton Mall were we did shopping, jacuzzi’s, fine dining and movies. We made the best of it and the girls when they look back say it was fantastic. It wasn’t what was planned, but we still created memories and found a way to enjoy our time “unsupervised”.



Along comes the Christmas season. I am now living on my own, and I have my kids every weekend. I have learned a few things about my girls… my “new” girls as they were no longer the girls I knew before the collision. Summer was attentive to my needs and helped were ever she saw a need before I would ask for help. She sat beside me in the love seat while I lay on the couch resting or sleeping during the day. She would watch movies with me and play her sims on her laptop. Just to be close…. I learned she had lost many friends during this time… How can you not…. She no longer related to the “drama” in a teens world, and could not tolerate when friends would complain about their siblings or parents…. She knew what life was like without a sibling and she knew what life could have been like without her mother. It was no ones fault, but her “relational skills” halted and she was most comfortable in her skin when she was close to me. River…. River my heart broke for. Before the collision she would play barbies, house, dress up, whatever Marley wanted to do. Her friends would come over and they would join in the games. She was kept young and kept her innocence of being a child…. Now almost a year later… I learned that she did not play… Not at all. We had “our show”. Once upon a time we would watch together that we started when I was in the hospital, and after that we watched Reign and I enjoyed how she liked learning about our worlds history. But there was not much else. She as well, no longer had the close friends for the same reasons as Summer, and most often or not, she would spend her days in her room alone watching tic toks and allowing herself to “numb out” I call it. There was a heaviness and a huge grief in the house that I could not magically dissipate.


I could not bring myself to decorate for Christmas. That and our tree would not fit in the home that we were in. What I did do was set up lights outside. We had a little deck so I put icicle lights around it, and bought some tees with lights on them and placed them out there. I even had light up “Christmas presents”. That looked great with the trees. This I could do. I didn’t have to “see” it every day and I didn’t have to be reminded of the “excitement that a would be 5 year old” would be going through with a Christmas tree and house decorations and all that encompasses that…. That was no longer there.

There was a huge hole and a massive grief for me…. I also knew though that NOTHING could go wrong for this season. It would be the first and I wanted to make sure that the girls got EVERYTHING and that it was the BEST day for them in a long time. The idea of having to go into stores and “hear” little children. To go past the “toy isle” and be reminded that I am no longer buying “toys” for little girls. The very thought of having to manage large crowds and stand in line with my limited mobility and fragile emotional state as it was…. Was horrifying to me. HOW would I make this the best Christmas for them as I could with sooo much loss surrounded by it. They were already missing the active mom that would take them sledding and skating. They were already missing their step dad who at the time we were separated and they had not seen him since the funeral in September. They were already missing the activities they used to do with their friends, they were already missing… the activities and excitement they would do with Marley. HOW would I ease this massive chasm?


I remember speaking to my grief councillor about this and she was the one that gave me “permission” to not decorate for Christmas and to just do what I wanted. She was the one that told me it was ok not to go shopping and expose myself to all that. She reminded me that I was still in my first year of grief and that it was ok if I only did what I needed to, to get through the season. She gave me permission to put myself on the priority list and not just do things for the kids, but to ensure that I was going to be ok. So I didn’t go shopping. I didn’t wrap presents, I didn’t decorate the house, and I didn’t make a Christmas dinner. Instead I focused on what I could do, and I had individual conversations with my girls on what they wanted for Christmas to make it great for them.


  1. I did online shopping after I learned what my girls really wanted. skipped the lines, skipped seeing all the excited littles, skipped all the chaos.

  2. I dropped off all the items at a friends house with all the stuff to wrap them in.

  3. My amazing friend wrapped them all for me and dropped them off at my sisters place to put under HER tree. I didn't have to see them and be reminded every day of who was missing under the tree.

  4. We were going to go on a Disney cruise for the 1 yr mark and it just so happened that Disney on ice was going on during the Christmas season so I bought tickets to get some excitement for our NEXT adventure, but also to bring happy experiences to this season that was proving to be so hard

  5. We baked all our favourite goodies that I would bake every year. River had expressed she was missing that and wanted that, so WITH River, I started sharing ALL my Christmas baking secrets.

  6. A Christmas plan of being at my sisters for Christmas Eve sleep over and Christmas Day was created so we would not be alone and could have many distractions that would help create more experiences.

  7. Educate those close to you HOW to talk to you.



I know this season can be so hard and difficult for many. Some with losses that are ages old. Some that are brand new to managing grief during this season. My story is not different from another. My story though, I hope helps you to come up with a plan. When we plan for the hard days we can move through them easier. It is not going to be perfect. It is not going to be “what you want.” It will be what you make it though. If you take the time to decide what it “hard” for you, and formulate a plan to help you through that hard part, then the rest will become easier. Build towards something.

I used our upcoming cruise and I found ways to incorporate that experience into the Christmas season because it WAS something we were ALL looking forward to. Put yourself on the list. Ask for help with the hard things. Find things that you can enjoy with others that still recognizes the season but memories can be made. I will ALWAYS want to answer “Marley” when asked what I want for Christmas, and I have done my very best to educated those around me NOT to ask, and even not say “Merry Christmas”. Instead they say, “Have a good Christmas”, instead of them asking what I want they ask “can I buy you a coffee, take you out to dinner/lunch?” They have learned that I value time and experience over “stuff”. I value the people around me more than anything they could “gift me.”


If you are struggling this year, and need some help just formulating and brainstorming a plan. Book some time with me. No charge, no strings attached. I would be happy to help you with that. I am hear for you no matter what you need.

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