‘It will be lonely this Christmas’, again.

It is Nov 30th but everywhere Christmas has arrived.

For so many, Christmas is a very difficult time, constant reminders of what is missing in so many lives, the hurt and pain is very real and for some it is a time for hiding away.

Sadly this will not be the first Christmas that estranged grandparents have had to face, for some it is many Christmases now, but those feelings of loss are just as deep as they ever were.

I asked some grandparents to share their thoughts:

I was out for a team get together last night and felt totally alienated from the conversation which was all about family and how, where and who colleagues were spending Christmas with. I sat and fiddled with my phone dreading the question which inevitably came and I just said I’d be sewing and reading. And I felt like the odd one out. People make a lot of assumptions about their colleagues, that everyone has family and friends and that it’s the norm to ask such personal questions.

I’m two years into the estrangement and this is my second Christmas. Last year we cancelled Christmas and it turned out a lot easier this way. No decorations, no tree. My husband and I swapped journals and that was it.

It’s the same this year. I can’t bear to unpack decorations with all the meaning and memories attached to those objects.

This estrangement is all about change for me, a change in the narrative of my life and a change in tradition which includes a Christmas free zone to protect my mental health.


I don’t really enjoy Christmas anymore as it polarises the loss of our adults children and grandchildren. We will put the tree up and try and enjoy the day but be glad when it’s all over.

M husband gets upset and struggles to understand now why we don’t see them. We both miss them terribly. Attempts to reconcile resulting in harsh words from them. I sent a very brief email a couple of weeks ago asking if we could FaceTimeand wish our grandchildren a Happy Birthday but no reply.

11 years on it remains a deep sadness and great loss in our lives which feels like it is never going to end. I will never understand how our adult children who loved us so much and were both so caring have no empathy for how it feels for us.

I’m forever grateful to the group for helping me to look forward rather than back.


Our first year experiencing  a Christmas without our daughter and grandchildren was extremely difficult. Friends and family around us excited about celebrating being together and seeing their grandchildren. All we could do was remember our wonderful times when we were together. They were fantastic Christmases.

I remember my husband and I preparing the Christmas meal. We were just going through this routine when we both looked at each other and broke down. Our hearts were broken. Our health suffered. So much so, we had a mountain to climb. Eight years on, we have tried to become stronger listening to all the comments of our friend’s and family, who are having wonderful times with their grandchildren. We try to smile with them, knowing how happy we once were. Unfortunately, most of them have become ‘forgetful ‘ of our heartache that never goes away!

We don’t blame them.  They don’t know how it feels until it happens to them. Hopefully, it never will except it did happen to one couple we knew and then they knew how hurtful it was and the difficulty to understand how it could happen to them.

Christmas 2023 approaches. Still the music plays ‘happy’ songs. Still the people get excited being together for Christmas. For us, the heartache never goes away, but it is HOPE that keeps us going.We HOPE for a miracle. They do happen!


I begin to panic September , yes panic. I hate my friends telling me what they’ll be doing , only its only a day , oh , don’t be so negative !!! It doesn’t matter how positive I am or was! So I’m afraid I’ve one friend who constantly says this ”  be positive , its not as you think S ” but there she is with her parents , husband daughters and grandchildren ( all local to her ) and she puts these things on FB ” my family is everything ” well I don’t have any family and miss my son and GD’s every single day. I miss being called Mum , I miss being called Granny. I miss my Christmas cards with Mum on and Granny …

Not shallow but I just miss that !

I miss decorating the tree with my granddaughter , ( I don’t have a tree anymore ) I miss baking with her , we used to adore getting floury making mince pies and using our Christmas cutters. I miss choosing what to make her ( I’m a sewer , crafter ) I made her first Christmas Stocking and F’s. I miss going to the toy shops. I miss making or painting her Christmas card.

I won’t go to any Christmas events now. NONE. I hate to see all the families and their GC , just do , can’t cope ; it upsets me , missing what I had and now won’t have/experience.

I book to go to Penzance. I literally have palpitations if I haven’t done this by September 1ST ! I like when we go away , I’m anonymous , no one knows me , no one asks about family or what we’re doing ! Anonymous. I don’t have to explain to anyone , and don’t have to pretend to be jolly and happy !

But I do love the water , I will swim. I’ve insulation ! And we will go to the Mousehole lights , have delicious meals ( I order fresh fish from Newlyn , we can walk there ) we don’t use the car all week. But the main thing is no one bothers us. That’s how I like it , anonymous and no acting , because I don’t have to put on an act for anyone !


The Christmas message is one of love, but for estranged grandparents and grandchildren it is time of great sadness and loss.

About Jane

Jane setup Bristol Grandparent Support Group in 2007 after a string of incidents led to the loss of contact with her Grand Daughter.

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