Everyone who is estranged from family members knows that certain dates are hard to face.

For our family Easter always is a difficult time, it was nine years ago at Easter when we last saw or had any contact with our granddaughter.

Easter should be a time of new beginnings, new life and a fresh start, and for many this year all of that is true.

When I sit quietly and close my eyes, I still can see L……….., rushing around our garden, I can hear her squeals of delight as she discovers an Easter egg left by the Easter bunny. I can still feel her arms around me as she hugged me in the summer house with excitement. I can still see that lovely face as she snuggled down to sleep after a busy day, saying, “I love you Granny.”

Just like all the grandparents I have spoken to over nine years, I still cry when I think of her, the hurt and pain is as fresh today as it has always been.

There is a constant ache in my heart, an emptiness that can’t be filled.

Sometimes when you are giving support to others, you neglect yourself.

Easter is a time when I have to stop and think of how this has affected my whole family.

A son who has lost his daughter,another son who has lost a niece, daughter-in-laws who have lost a family member, cousins who have never known their cousin, and a grandad who has lost a little girl he loves with all his heart.

As a mum, the pain I know is there, hidden to others, is sometimes unbearable.

I ask exactly the same questions that everyone asks me, “Has she forgotten me? Does she think we don’t love her anymore,” the list is endless.

I am sure that L……… has lived her life to the full in those nine years, I also know that she has had to face sadness in her life, she is doing well at school and I expect she has many friends.  I pray that deep down somewhere she also knows how she is loved by each and every one of us, and that she will never be forgotten, and we are all still here for her if she needs us.

Being apart from a precious one, is not about one individual it is about the ripple affect on many, many people. Each and every one, feeling their loss in their own way.

It is not a time for blame or revengeful thoughts, that is never an answer.

Somehow we have to soak up all that is good in our lives, to look to the future and to hold those images in our hearts, and to be thankful for those hugs, those smiles, those moments, no-one can ever erase them.

Jane