Grief isn't always about death, grief is also about missing someone that you love very much. Christmas is a tough time for us, because we are grieving for my daughter on a daily basis. What makes it harder is that my daughter hasn't died. I think when someone dies, you grieve and then you start to move on, you start to get on with life again and you remember the good times. But with my family, we are stuck in limbo, because my daughter isn't dead. She is very much alive and living in another part of the country.
So why do I grieve for her?
My daughter Bethany was always a difficult child as she was growing up, she was stubborn and sneaky, but she was so like me that we often clashed and argued. But then from right under my nose, she was groomed by someone online from the age of 15 or 16 until the age of 18 when he finally succeeded in winning her over and he became her ''boyfriend''. Within weeks she was pregnant and I was disappointed, but what could we do about it? It was quick but he seemed like a good guy - but appearances can be very deceptive!
I had known that she had this 'friend' Nathan for years and that he would send her gifts through the post and we had told her to stop accepting them, which she said she had done. Little did I know, they were still in contact and she was being groomed from underneath my eyes. It wasn't until she was 8 months pregnant the the full horror of everything emerged and I had to fight for my child and grandchild.
Sadly things didn't go our way and my daughter was so brainwashed by this evil man that she couldn't even make up her own mind, it was always what Nathan wanted. The baby was put up for adoption and I have been deprived of the chance of being a grandmother, which breaks my heart because I have so much love to give a child. But I have also lost my daughter. I fought for her for over a year, but then I had to stop and look at what it was doing to my own family that still live at home. My 6 year old daughter started needed counselling because of everything that had happened and so did my 24 year old. I knew then that the grieving had to stop and I needed to start looking forward, I needed to choose between my children, The one that needed me to fight for her or the three that needed my love and support through their own grief.
I had been through the cycle of grieving but I didn't have a place to go to feel close to my daughter, there was no grave or memorial because my daughter was very much alive and living her life without me. At first I had been in denial, I thought that if she came home, everything would be okay, I had been guilty because I hadn't noticed the signs of her being groomed, I had been angry because it shouldn't have happened, I felt sad because the reality kicked in and I knew I had lost her.
Grieving at Christmas is so much worse because I know she could come home if she felt able too, I know that she is alive and just not talking to us, I feel sad because her siblings miss her more at Christmas and her 6 year old sister is still coming to terms with not seeing her sister again. We also grieve for my grand daughter, We still cry for her at times because we had been denied the chance of a grandchild and niece. Funnily enough I don't feel anger anymore for the man that took this all away from us, I don't feel hate and I don't feel hurt anymore. I feel hope for the future that the baby will become part of our life when she is older and I feel hope that Beth will return one day, when she can. But for the time being there is still the grief that we feel at Christmas and birthdays because part of my family is always going to be missing.