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I hate Christmas

Posted by Patricia_Marie
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on Thursday, 11 December 2014
Dear Patricia Marie,
I always hate this time of year – Christmas.  My closest friend died in a car accident on Christmas Day five years ago, and every year I am reminded of her and how much I miss her.  She was such a vibrant, happy person and she used to love Christmas. 

I visit her grave every year, put flowers there, and talk to her, and this year I have explained to my boyfriend of nine months that I don’t ‘do’ Christmas, and why.  He seems a bit irritated by this, but has said he will visit the grave with me.  He wanted me to spend the day with his family and children, but I can’t do that.  I have to honour my friend’s memory.
Nobody seems to understand.  How can I make them see that I feel it is wrong for me to celebrate this day?

Patricia Marie says...

This time of year brings much sadness to those remembering their loved ones, and the pain is often heightened when others are wanting to celebrate the festivities.

If you can plan Christmas to include remembering your best friend, the day may not seem quite so daunting. Take some comfort from lighting a candle in memory of her - have a photo nearby and tell others of the special times you shared. They will want to be included in your thoughts, rather than feel isolated.

Sometimes we can feel no one understands because we don't open up - so do talk to your family and friends, they care about you and will be conscious of your loss. I suspect your boyfriend is not so much irritated but frustrated by your refusal to enjoy the nice times that you so deserve.

Be grateful for the time you had with your friend and focus on this rather than there absence in your future. Have you considered that she wouldn't be wanting you to be feeling so miserable, or not making the most of the life she can't have. So with this in mind, perhaps you could you try to compromise and enjoy the loved ones that are here with you today.

If at anytime you do feel tearful, that's fine too. Don't be so hard on yourself, look to the future and believe things will get easier.

Over Christmas time professional help and support is just a phone call away. Cruse is an excellent organisation offering bereavement counselling which I feel you could benefit from: (0844 477 9400) You may also find the below poem resonates with you.


You can shed tears because she has gone,
Or you can smile because she lived,
You can close your eyes and pray that she will come back,
Or you can open your eyes and see all that she has left.
Your heart can be empty because you can't see her,
Or you can be full of the love you shared,
You can turn your back on tomorrow and live yesterday,
Or you can be happy tomorrow because of yesterday.
You can remember her and only that she is gone,
Or you can cherish her memory and let it live on,
You can cry and close your mind, be empty and turn your back,
Or you could do what she would want: smile, open your eyes, love and go on.

By David Harkins

Have a dilemma? Please email  Please note, while Patricia cannot respond to all emails, she does read them all.

In need of further support? Patricia Marie offers a counselling service in Harley Street, contact details as follows

I am bereft

Posted by Patricia_Marie
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on Thursday, 30 October 2014
Dear Patricia Marie,

My beautiful old dog Sally died six months ago and I am just bereft.  She was always with me whatever I did or wherever I went,  and as I live on my own she was my companion and I would talk to her all the time.  When I walked her, people would come up and talk to me sometimes - somehow when you have a dog with you it makes you more approachable.

I just feel so lost without her, and so lonely, made worse by the lack of understanding of those around me. I have thought about getting another dog, but just don't think any dog could replace her.

Patricia Marie says...

Many people, even our closest friends, feel uncomfortable talking to us about our losses. Because of this, we are sometimes most alone just at the time when we need support. This applies especially for the death of a pet, as our society often does not acknowledge loss of an animal to be a cause for grief. However, the reality is you are not alone, as there are many dog owners who have to face the loss of there most loyal companion.

Allow yourself time to come to terms with your sorrow.  Recollect the wonderful memories that can never be taken away from you, and in time hopefully you will soon begin to remember your beloved dog with more smiles than tears. Display a photograph of 'Sally' - it will help you to feel connected when she is in your thoughts.

There are many dog rescue organisations desperate for help, where you could perhaps volunteer to temporary foster, or help to look after the dogs at the centre - therefore, benefit from having them in your life, but without full responsibility, although I cannot promise you won't become attached to these vulnerable animals. Attending a place of work will also enable you to make friends and not feel so isolated.

If the only reason you can't face getting another dog is because you feel the new one wouldn't replace the old, of course, no two dogs could ever be the same, but having a different dog could prove preferable to having no dog. Do consider this, and you may just want to begin a new unique and perfect bond with another furry friend, who will benefit from the love and care you could clearly offer.

For a comforting read, I recommend: Goodbye Dear Friend: Coming to Terms with a Death of a Pet by Virginia Ironside.

Have a dilemma? Please email  Please note, while Patricia cannot respond to all emails, she does read them all.

In need of further support? Patricia Marie offers a counselling service in Harley Street, contact details as follows

My family don't care that I'm depressed

Posted by Patricia_Marie
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on Thursday, 31 July 2014
Dear Patricia Marie,

My husband has always been sympathetic of the depression I have struggled with for years, but my sister and brother have been so unhelpful and my mother positively cruel. It came to a head last week when she said I was just like my dad, who died 30 years ago when I was 10.

I always thought he'd had an accident, but from what she'd said, he'd killed himself and she thinks I'm bound to do the same and would be stupid if I did.

Patricia Marie says...

Depression can be so draining. It's not just about sadness, but about feeling helpless, isolated and having little, if any, energy. It can run in families, but whether that's genetic or because of shared experiences, experts can't be sure.

Your father's death and your family's lack of support may be linked to you feeling as bad as you do. Friends and family support is crucial for the recovery and well being of those suffering with the brutal illness of depression - indeed, lack of support and feelings of loneliness can make the sufferer more vulnerable.

It seems to me that your mother's anger and lack of understanding demonstrates she hasn't fully been able to come to terms with the death of your father. It may not be easy, but you could try suggesting she gets some professional help, which would assist her in understanding depression better so as she can relate to your needs.

If your father did kill himself that doesn't mean you will follow suit, nor that suicidal thoughts are stupid (certainly, they aren't uncommon in depression). What is a lot more silly and annoying is your family's unhelpful behaviour.

Contact mental health charity mind (0300 123 3393; for its excellent information and help in finding good support. They can give you details of their group therapy sessions, where meeting other fellow sufferers may prove helpful to you in feeling understood.

Have a dilemma? Please email  Please note, while Patricia cannot respond to all emails, she does read them all.

In need of further support? Patricia Marie offers a counselling service in Harley Street, contact details as follows

I can't cope with my friend's death

Posted by Patricia_Marie
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on Thursday, 05 June 2014
Dear Patricia Marie,

My best friend died a year ago after being in a tragic car accident. At first everyone was supportive and caring, but this was short lived. Now, nobody wants to talk about her, and dismissive of me if I try to speak of my very much missed friend, who understood me like no other. I am feeling so alone at this moment and don't know who to turn to. I have started to have thoughts of suicide which scares me. Would appreciate some help.

Patricia Marie says...

How very sad for you to lose someone so close, I am so sorry. When a close friend dies, it can be extremely painful and difficult to come to terms with. When you say people are dismissive of you wanting to speak, I believe it's because they are not sure what to say. Unfortunately, sometimes those closest to us just aren't capable of dealing with death - wanting to help, just unsure how. Make it clear to them there are times you want to talk about your friend - not wanting them to fix things for you, but just to listen and be there for you.

Even if you get upset, its better to express your feelings, and important to remember the happy times as well as the sad ones.

I am sure if your friend adored you as you did her, she would be upset that you are contemplating suicide. Very sadly she has lost her life, however, you are very much alive, and although you can't see it now, there is much to live for. This is hard to believe when you are in such a dark place, but you don't have to deal with it alone. Please see your G.P about how you are feeling, as he can offer a medical check up and organise some bereavement counselling. Cruse are an excellent organisation offering support for those struggling with grief and loss.  Contact: (0844 477 9400) For a comforting read, I recommend  'The Courage To Grieve ' by Judy Tatelbaum.

Have a dilemma? Please email  Please note, while Patricia cannot respond to all emails, she does read them all.

In need of further support? Patricia Marie offers a counselling service in Harley Street, contact details as follows

An odd couple.

Posted by Tania Kindersley
Tania Kindersley
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on Wednesday, 20 November 2013
This week, I said goodbye to a human and a pony.

The human was a dear relation, one of the tremendous gentlemen of the old school. He was of a venerable age, and it was his time. All the same, there is still a sense of shock, as if in the magical part of brain I believe the old people will go on forever.

The small Welsh pony.The small Welsh pony.

I remember this from when my father died. He was eighty, and his body was bashed and battered from years of race riding, from crashing falls, from breaks and cracks and tears. He was entirely ready to go and in the end he slid away easily, after singing a little song for the Australian nurse to whom he had taken a shine. He made it up especially for her. ‘Dahlia from Australia,’ he sang, and then he went to sleep and he did not wake.
And the big red mare, who misses her tiny friend.And the big red mare, who misses her tiny friend.
I had thought I was prepared for that moment, but I was not. It felt oddly shocking, as if there had been a tear in the space-time continuum.

As this great generation goes gentle into that good night, I feel the same sense of wrongness, of lack, of rupture. They are the ones who remember the war. Some even fought in it. My darling godfather, still bashing on against all the odds, served with the Welsh Guards, and after VE day was sent on hush-hush sabotage missions. ‘I blew up bridges and things,’ he told me once. ‘I rather enjoyed it.’ They knew rationing and deprivation. They were not a perfect generation, but they did stoicism and understatement better than anyone. I am profoundly sad that they are going.

I had not seen my relation for a long time, since I moved so far north, but he was a huge part of my formative years, and I remember his great kindness to the young, and so I mourn him, and I regret his passing.

The little pony exists at the other end of the scale. She was my daily companion. She came to us as a friend for my thoroughbred, and the aristocratic ex-racehorse and the scruffy Welsh mountain person made a most touching bond. The red mare still calls for her and looks for her. I look for her too. The field has a gap in it.

Like the gentleman, she too was old; it too was her time. She went very quickly, hardly needing any help from the vet. She was just a little pony, yet I wept bitter tears for her.

It’s always complicated when humans and animals go at the same time. There is supposed to be a hierarchy. How can a highly educated man, capable of abstract thought and complex reasoning, compare to a simple flight animal, who lives on good, basic instincts? The sorrow becomes complicated. There is a voice in my head which tells me, sternly, that it is almost unseemly to grieve both in the same way.

Funnily enough, I’ve been through this exact thing before. On the night of my father’s funeral, one of my dogs died. I found myself torn between the oceanic grief of losing a parent, which changes your world forever, and the simple, expected sorrow of losing an old canine.

Loch Muick, where I said goodbye.Loch Muick, where I said goodbye.

At the time, my sister said a very wise thing. She said: ‘Love is love.’ I write about that plain sentence quite a lot, because I think it is so important, and I need to remind myself of it. There is no hierarchy of beloveds. The ones who stitch themselves into your heart, animal or human, are as important as each other. The space they leave behind is not graded. It just is.

Yesterday I drove down to Glen Muick, a great glacial valley ten miles west, with a loch the colour of mercury and a ring of indigo mountains at its gracious end, to say my goodbyes. It is where I always go, as if I am committing the spirits of the dear departeds to the very hills. There is something about that vast unchanging landscape which allows me to come to terms with life and death.

I said goodbye to a humble pony, and a grand gentleman. I was keenly aware of the slight absurdity of this odd couple. Yet there was a rather lovely rightness to it as well. Death, like love, is a mystery. No matter how many books I read or thoughts I think, I shall never quite get to the bottom of them. But they must both be marked, and so I marked them, in the only way I know.

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