Christmas hurt and Christmas presence

It’s that time of year again, that time of year when I cry bucketloads of tears, that time of year when my emotions are heightened and I get in touch with multiple layers of grief and loss.

It’s that time of year when many of us reflect on the loved ones we’ve lost, the partners we haven’t yet found, the children we haven’t had and the dreams that haven’t come to pass.

It’s that time of year when we fall into the trap of comparing our insides with other people’s outsides, wishing our family or our home looked like the one next door.

It’s that time of year when we remember painful Christmas memories from our past.

Before I go any further and give you too much to read, I’d like to share another blog with you.

I’ve been writing about why Christmas hurts so much in a post for Medium. Once you’ve read it, please pop back here as I have a bit more to say: read why Christmas hurts so much here.

I scribbled the bulk of that blog, the part about losing Mum, in a notebook late one night through tears. The feelings were raw and I just had to write them down.

Sometimes I wonder why I do this, why I bear my soul to the world, but I need to. I need to be witnessed, to be seen, in all my messiness, perhaps because I wasn’t entirely seen when I was younger, perhaps because my messiness, my extremes of emotion, weren’t acceptable.

So I share them all with you, because it’s cathartic for me and, so some of you tell me, it helps you too.

On that note, I want to share how excited I am that one of my delightful readers donated to me via my donations page on this blog today, and an amount that blew me away. I felt so moved, so touched.

I’ve been writing here for so many years, more than ten in fact, thousands upon thousands of words, pouring my feelings onto the page, processing my losses and I hope, helping you to process yours. When you comment or donate, it gives me such a warm, fuzzy feeling inside and confirms I’m on the right path, finding purpose in my pain.

Thank you so much for reading and for supporting me. It means a lot.

Now back to Christmas.

So there’s loss, lots of it. There’s love too, of course, but where there is love, there is loss.

It hurts to get in touch with our losses, which is why so many of us try to avoid them, especially at this time of year. We over-eat or over-indulge with alcohol to numb our feelings. We get extra busy, running around buying gifts or cleaning the house, so we don’t have to feel. We work too hard, which is what I’m doing right now, to distract from the feelings. (I was supposed to wrap work up yesterday but here I am again).

What’s the answer?

For me, the answer is to try and practise Christmas presence (I have my therapist Paul Sunderland to thank for this fitting phrase, which he shared with me in our last session of the year this week.)

What does Christmas presence look like?

It means being present to my feelings, all of them, including the uncomfortable ones.

It means avoiding the behaviours that take me away from myself – the eating, over-working, running around, the control.

It means being entirely present with the people I am spending Christmas with, my husband, a few friends and our gorgeous pup, Layla Joy.

It means taking myself away from the hubbub if required, to a quiet space so that I can process any feelings that come up, so that I can honour them, rather than dismiss them or numb them.

Layla bringing joy

Christmas presence.

What would it look like for you? Have a think and comment below.

Before I go, one more suggestion: to celebrate your successes as we wrap up 2021.

You can’t think of any? I know that one. It happened to me too. At first, I couldn’t think of any successes and then I remembered that my mum died this year and that I am still standing – that’s a success. If all I had done was get to the end of this year without crumbling, then that would be a victory.

But I also wrote 50,000 words of my novel. Yay! And I brought a puppy into my life, Layla Joy – facing my fears around commitment and making the wrong choice.

Importantly, I stayed in love with my husband and maintained our beautiful relationship, despite numerous challenges, many of them related to the pup!

I made time to visit a sick friend twice.

I also hosted my How to Fall in Love – Laying the Foundations and Date with Courage, Clarity and Confidence courses for groups of women. Success! And I hosted a How to Fall in Love Retreat. Success!

I’ve touched people’s lives, helped women to find more clarity, more contentment, more self-compassion, more courage and for some, a loving relationship. Yay!

And I kept writing this blog. Amazing.

All in the year my mum died. I’d say that was a victory.

So how about you? Can you celebrate your successes? If you can’t think of any, think again! Share below if you’d like to.

I will finish this blog here so that I can wrap up work as soon as I can and start practising Christmas presence myself.

Sending you love, peace, joy and hope

Katherine xxx

Support my writing & my work

Donate – You’ll find a donate button in the right sidebar or on this page. (If you are donating on a mobile, the screen will go black when you hit donate and then you need to scroll up to the top of the screen to find the box to enter your card details. It’s a bit tricky, but doable when you know how!) By donating, you support me to create more space in my life for my writing. That means more blogs and more books. I have a novel on the go and a book on emotional overeating in progress. You can donate as little as £1 or as much as you like. Thank you for your kind contributions.

Read and review my book – My first book, How to Fall in Love, is available on Amazon and most other platforms. If you’ve read it and liked it, please do leave a review. Reviews help other readers to find my work.

Explore my coaching, courses & retreats – Go to for information on 1:1 love and life coaching, midlife mentoring, retreats, workshops and my signature courses: How to Fall in Love – Laying the Foundations and Date with Courage, Clarity and Confidence.

Hire me as a speaker – I speak to schools, universities and organisations on wellbeing, self-care, self-esteem, managing stress and healing from compulsive and addictive behaviours including eating disorders. Click here for more details.

About Katherine Baldwin

I am a writer, coach, midlife mentor, motivational speaker and the author of How to Fall in Love - A 10-Step Journey to the Heart. I specialise in coaching women and men to have healthy relationships with themselves so that they can form healthy and loving romantic relationships and lead authentic, fulfilling lives. I coach 1:1, lead workshops and host retreats.
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