Silent Night

Two weeks to Christmas, I am readying for the annual co-ordination of several different strands of the people who make up our family.  This year we will be bringing together his  and mine from all different parts of the country so that for a few days at least we will be together to remind ourselves and each other that we are indeed a family.  The almost military organisation that this requires could, if I let it, make my head spin.  In these days when distant relatives refers to geography and not relational space, getting us all together under one roof is no easy task.

Around the country and indeed the world I guess the same thing will be happening.  Christmas being the one time of the year when family comes together to celebrate the ties that bind us and the safety and the security, both inside and out, that this offers.  For those of us in fractured and separated families, those who we gather with us are often the precious survivors of a holocaust of grief and loss.  Each year I give grateful thanks for the ones who survived my own family separations and send out love to those who did not, all of whom will be remembered throughout this coming festive season.

Each time the lights twinkle in the darkest time of year I am taken back to the times when I too was suffering loss.  My family is made up of fracture lines and my husband’s too.  We have both known the cold hard pain of Christmas without the ones we love around us, though he more than I, the experience of silence that greets you as you return from dropping the children at their other parent’s home on Christmas Day.  As he says now though, at least he got to see his children on Christmas Day and tuck them into bed on Christmas Eve and share with them those special warm hours that this time of year brings,  whilst once again, so many parents this year, will not.

We talked again recently about how we individually coped with the most difficult times of our losses.  For me it was being able to fold my home around me, fill it with warm smells and lights and things that made me feel safe and cosy.  For him it was being able to put on a comedy or a film, cook himself something good to eat and relax.  For both of us it was about knowing that taking care of ourselves, in whatever way worked for us, was what got us through.  

Self care is so important for separated parents, because it is this willingness to take responsibility for your own self as a deserving person that sustains the self worth that pulls you through the sorrow and the pain.  When your world has come crashing down around you and there is no-one to take care of you, being willing to take care of yourself is a gift that no-one else can give you but one which is worth millions in the long run.  For you are worth all the love and care in the world.  You are worth it because you are your children’s parent, you are worth it because you are someone’s  son or daughter and you are worth it because you are, just simply, you.  If your children could give you that gift of showing you how much you are worth it, they would and if they can’t because they are prevented from doing so, it doesn’t mean that they do not want to or would not if they could.  Children love their parents, they love them deeply and unconditionally and fiercely.  When that love is interrupted it is not the case that love dies, it does not.  The love your children feel may run in rivers deep beneath what you can see, but it runs there just the same and it would take more than one parent can do to prevent that love from flowing towards you one day in the future.

  Wherever you are on the path of separation,  know that there are others with you, travelling the same rocky and difficult road. Whether you are with your children or without them, whether you will see them at Christmas or not, when it comes to the time when the night falls silent and they are not there, take heart and take care of yourself because you are not alone. This too will pass and life will change and those who will help you are those who have been there, where you are now.  However you celebrate the middle of winter, whoever you celebrate it with, whether you are with loved ones or alone, wrap your love around yourself and know that those of us who have travelled the path you are on will be with you in our minds and in our hearts. Because when you have travelled this road once, you will travel it again, with the others who come behind you.  No-one who has sat through a Christmas night, in separation from their loved ones can ever go through this time of year without sending out silent thoughts to those who are coping with that right now.

In this silent night to come I will be sending out mine and hoping, for each of you, a stronger, better, happier new year.

With love x




  1. Christmas just is a difficult time, here it is going to be a pretty miserable one, but we will try to make it as happy as possible. At the moment I just wish it wasn’t happening at all but at the very least we all need a break.

    Thank you for your thoughts, at least it is good to know that we are not alone. And really I cannot complain many are far worse off than we are. My heart goes out to everyone missing love ones at Christmas.


  2. I find it unfortunate that parents who want to do something for others at this time, since they cannot do anything for their own kids, have no opportunity to do so. You’d think that there would be more opportunities for volunteer work, but nothing exists. We are all so selfish. It would be good to see Christmas less about spending lots of money on junk and more about spreading goodwill outside the family unit. It would be nice if someone with money and time could set something up, along the lines of Shelter but something you don’t have to pay to join, and something that is real and has a real effect rather than yet another useless charity that looks good in name but is just a waste of space. I’m just always surprised, because there must be millions of us out there that want to express goodwill at Christmas, and help out somewhere doing something, but are blocked from doing so.


    1. Why wait, do it yourself, there are many people who would be delighted to receive what help you can give you do not need a charity to help and be there forother people, I no longer work for a charity…do it, do it today, do it tomorrow why wait.


      1. Once offered myself and my car for charity work over Christmas. When I contacted the council to let them know out came the problems – CRB checks, child protection history – I just said “stuff it, call me if you need to” and left it at that. The trouble is some of us are in that netherworld, left in that dark hinterland of once having faced false accusations and a police investigation for child abuse. It matters not that my name was cleared in court (I have a shared residence order), the suspicion always lingers. The police attitude remains one of lacking sufficient evidence to charge and prosecute rather than exoneration. You’re stuffed, for life basically.


    2. You could think about volunteering with Families Need Fathers. They provide emotional support on the national helpline. They provide training and are crying out for more volunteers.


  3. Like D, I would like to do something but don’t know what.
    Whilst writing this the only thought that comes to mind is to call a local care home I know of and simply put myself forward if there is anything I can do for them.
    But if anybody else has any suggestions the perhaps it would be ok for them to post here.
    Otherwise I think I will also be doing stuff similar to Nick. Haven’t met them in something like 3 years…. Don’t want to think about all that tho.


  4. The Christmas’s when I couldn’t be with my child, I volunteered with Crisis in London. They’re a charity for the homeless and they run shelters over the holidays. It took my mind of things somewhat, and it reminded me that there are those far worse off.


    1. Oh also, I meant to say, a really beautiful post Karen. It’s obvious that you feel for each and every one of them out there.


  5. This Xmas will be the first I spend with my new husband and my (not our) children, the second we’ve spent all living in the same house. It will be the fourth he’s spent without his own child. My children’s father will join us and my husband will cook for him, as he did last year, and my children will spend time with both their parents together on Xmas day, because that is what they want so we all as adults, as best we can, make it happen for them, putting aside any of our own feelings. Meanwhile my husband’s child will spend another Xmas day with the mother who continues to try to destroy their relationship. And I will spend the day seeing the pain in my husband’s eyes as all the simple nothing moments that families share unfold before him. And I will also see that same pain in my children’s father’s eyes as he soaks up those same nothing moments to store away and replay for himself when he returns to his quiet home. And in my children’s eyes (or at least some of them because life is always complicated) I will see joy at spending time with both parents, and sadness when that time ends again. And the last time I saw my husband’s child I saw fear in those eyes and panic about what repercussions a chance meeting would bring (although all that happened was that as a civil adult I said ‘hello’ and was ignored but the repercussions still came).
    So my Xmas as a parent to present children, and step-parent to an absent but much loved child, and wife to a wounded father who’s also a loving and supportive step-father, and ex-wife to a wounded but decent and honourable father is a complicated, painful jigsaw of a time, as we try to build happy peaceful pictures again, which we do. And I’ll send out silent thoughts to the child who’s not here with us, and pray for peace for my husband’s child’s mother, so that we can all move on and continue (or start) to heal and genuinely do the best we can for the children we’ve fractured.


  6. Many years ago, I was in the position of spending Christmas after Christmas with my “new family” and was so utterly depressed & hurt missing my own children that I practically ignored my stepchildren. I simply could not overcome the pain. looking back now, I wish I had been stronger and integrated more with my stepchildren.


    1. if you cant be with the ones you love, love the ones you’re with… it doesn’t lessen the love you have for your own but it helps you to get through and the by product is that the ones you are with get a dose of your love too..x


      1. Yes, and my stepchildren lost out also. More victims of parental alienation – the web grows wider.

        My very best wishes and thoughts are with fathers (and mothers) who are not with their children this Christmas. Please be strong – stay alive and wait. For as sure as the sun comes up every morning, your children will eventually be drawn to you.


      2. Hi Cityman, ChrisTR (and all of us in the same boat to one degree or other) – I’m planning a psychological intervention program which can help to impact all our situations. It consists of using Community Music as powerful engagement tool to attract people who badly need therapy – but would NEVER go near this.

        It’s based on participatory concerts covering pop music of the last 60 years so that there will be something for everyone. The point is to give people the opportunity to engage emotionally, as well as musically, and to begin to open the floodgates of the suppressed pain which is largely behind all the hostility we are experiencing.

        Sure – some people will avoid this as well, initially…but I suspect their curiosity will eventually get the better of them.

        It isn’t a cheap program to run – and obviously has to start somewhere (a rather dull corner of S E London) – but I trust it will then be able to be a hit and go nationwide.

        Anyone interested in making this happen on a practical level…there is a need to make a promotional film, website development, a musical database, developing a follow-up counselling team, medical evaluation team etc etc…or just to ask further questions – please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

        I haven’t yet met Karen but trust she will want to give her support to this also.



  7. Thank you Karen for this valuable and heartfelt post.

    I have not seen my children since April 2011 so this will be the third Christmas that we are not together. They are now 11 and nearly 7. I hope that they will still find on Christmas morning that Father Christmas has taken a bite of the mince pie and a drink of the milk left for him on Christmas Eve and that the carrot left for the reindeer has also been taken, and that Father Christmas has left them each a present from him personally.

    I hope, that as you say, one day their love for me will flow naturally as it did before. It flows always from me to them and I express this in the monthly letters I have been ‘ordered’ to send them. Sadly, my ex-wife does not encourage them to write back to me as she was ordered to do and my children are not able to do this of their own free will, I believe, because of the hostage situation they are in.

    I will be lighting a candle for my children on Christmas Day and also one for my ex-wife and will say a prayer for them all and will pray for my ex-wife that she comes to realise that she cannot continue on the path she has taken and I will also pray for guidance in finding a way where I might be able to reach out to her to help her understand how important it is for our children’s psychological and emotional welfare that Daddy is back in their lives.

    I am sending my thoughts and love to all those who are prevented from having the loving relationship they once had with their children, nephews/nieces, grandchildren and godchildren and to those parents who are denied the privilege they once had at this important time of year to hold, hug and kiss their children and enjoy this special time as they once did.


  8. Young girl talking in this video of her experience with family court and return of her father.


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