Although it seems a lifetime ago, it feels like yesterday. Time doesn't heal; it just makes grief go out of focus. And anything can bring it sharply back again: a photograph, a scent, a memory or just the endless yearning pall of homesickness so familiar to people who've lost their parents too early.
Thirteen years ago today my mum died. It all feels like a lifetime ago, and actually I can't really remember what life looked and felt like with her in it. I wish I had been given the chance to get to know her, to appreciate her and, of course, I would do anything to thank her for all the things I can now see she did for me and my sister, and all the little ways in which she showed us that she loved us.
Despite our best intentions, we soon forget about the fragility and preciousness of life and carry on as we always have done, sweating the small stuff! However, one very practical thing we can do, even when we fail to live up to our intentions to "make each moment count" is share with our children the values we hold dearest.
Grieving is the bodies way of letting go. Trust your body, it has millions of years of knowing what to do when it comes to loss. Our natural response is to be strong, keep going, to not look back, stiff upper lip and all that. But doing that only stuffs down the feelings and they will eventually come up somewhere or somehow like depression, anger, drinking and drugs.
Some say that the antidote to those very understandable and human difficulties is the willingness to love, forgive and to let go of the past. All too easily can we get stuck in the past, concede control and power of our lives to what has or could have been. With that frame of mind, perspective on life, and heavy heart it is difficult to move on.
I keep collapsing into a ball of tears, mourning my father's departure (as far as euphemisms for death go, that one is bearable, don't you think?) back in September. It was followed swiftly by that of a close friend, Kate, an accomplished artist whose personal kindnesses to me had, over the years, become impossible to keep count of.
When I was just eight years old, Christmas Day came to have a different, bittersweet meaning for me, compared to most lucky souls. Because when I was meant to be celebrating my eighth birthday (yes, I was born on 25 December), my Uncle Eddie, who lived next door, and to whom I was extraordinarily close, passed away in the early hours of that morning.
Celebrating a life can lighten the pain of loss - sharing special moments of meaning, private and public. Mixing numbness, heart break, tears of pain and the longing to hold, talk, see, hear the other just on more time with pride, joy and gratitude for what we have experienced with and because of the other, who has gone.
There have been several major deaths recently - singer Lou Reed, broadcaster John Cole and composer Sir John Tavener spring immediately to mind. As the former obituaries editor at BBC News and now a freelance obituary writer, I know from experience the pronounced feeling of self-satisfaction such deaths engender if you have prepared the obituaries in advance.