Christmas can be a wonderful time of year for many people. Not only does it encourage us to eat, drink and be merry, but it also reminds us of the importance of spending time with those we love the most.
For those who have lost someone, however, the festive season can be incredibly painful.
It’s been just five months since comedy legend Caroline Aherne passed away, following a short battle with cancer. And now, ahead of what would have been her 53rd birthday, her brother Patrick has shared an emotional video that he created as a tribute to his beloved sibling.
Captioning the video on Facebook, Patrick wrote: “As we now get into the Christmas spirit it will be weird this year for myself and my family.
“Caroline would have been 53 on Christmas Eve and the annual birthday party will not be one of the Christmas highlights again.”
He continued: “I really cannot forget thinking about her and so I recorded this song Jealous Of The Angels as it says everything.
The video features previously unseen photos of The Royle Family and Gogglebox star from her childhood, as her brother sings: “I’ll hold you as close as I can, longing for the day when I see your face again. But, until then, God must need another angel around the throne tonight.
“Your love lives on inside of me, and I will hold on tight. It’s not my place to question, only God knows why. I’m just jealous of the angels around the throne tonight.”
Speaking to the Manchester Evening News, he added: “The original version of this song was recorded by Jenn Bostic, a Canadian musician and songwriter, who also wrote the song.
“I just felt in love with the song and its lyrics and that is why I thought I would have a go and record it.
“I really feel that it is so poignant for me and my feelings for Caroline as we are coming close to what would have been her 53rd birthday. I simply do not know what Christmas will be like this year without her.”
The BAFTA award-winning star died of lung cancer in July 2016, after previously overcoming bladder and eye cancer diagnoses throughout her life.
She continued to work right up until her passing, narrating Gogglebox episodes throughout her illness and speaking out to raise awareness about the disease whenever she could.
In 2014, she paid tribute to cancer nurses during a heartfelt speech at the launch of the Macmillan Cancer Improvement Partnership, a £3.4million scheme to bring together hospitals, GPs, hospices and Manchester city council to coordinate cancer care in her home city.
Opening up at the event, she said: “My brother and I were born with cancer of the eyes, the retina, my mum told us only special people get cancer. I must be very special because I have had it in my lungs and my bladder as well.
“But the brilliant thing was the Macmillan nurse was like an angel because when you hear them telling you that you have cancer, it's true you don't take it in properly or you just don't think of the questions.
“And then when you come out and she's been in there with you, she answers all your questions you weren't able to ask at the time or you having thought of.”
Aherne added: “She is an angel and we couldn't have asked for better.”
If you are struggling to come to terms with grief of your own this Christmas, you can find help and support on cruse.org.uk.
The service advises: “The Christmas period may mean that your normal routine is disrupted, and this can make it easier to forget to look after yourself. Trying to keep to regular patterns of sleeping and eating are small things that can make a difference.
“We can all drink more on festive occasions, but it’s important to remember that using alcohol to escape the pain of loss provides only very temporary relief. Seeing friends or family, or volunteering for the day, can all help.”
The bereavement charity adds that, while many may feel that they have to behave in a certain manner over the holidays, everyone is different.
Most importantly, they suggest that you “keep plans flexible and allow yourself to change your mind” if things become overwhelming.
“Be kind to yourself,” they add, “and ask for help if you need it.”
Images: Rex pictures