Christmas is the time of year when people spend time with their loved ones, and think of people close to their hearts who are no longer with them.
Debra Parsons lost her mother earlier this year and has revealed the unusual way she’ll be honouring her this December 25th.
Debra, 41, from Folkesone in Kent, says she’ll scatter her mum’s ashes on her turkey – and Christmas pudding – before eating her festive dinner.
Doreen Brown died suddenly in May from an airway obstruction after suffering from a chest infection.
And the unexpected loss led Debra into a battle to overcome her grief.
Debra told The Mirror: “My mum and I had a really strong bond and one which could never be broken, even by death.”
Shortly after Doreen’s funeral and subsequent cremation, Debra began considering what she would do with her mother’s ashes.
She says: “I knew Mum was ill but never expected her to pass away when she did.
“I decided I wanted to do something with her ashes that would make a difference to how we remembered her.
“I didn’t want to just scatter them because that would feel like throwing her away.”
“At first I kept them in a plastic sandwich bag. I wanted to be with them all the time so I had them by my bed or with me around the house.
“Then I got a little box for them so I could have them on display but no matter what I did I just couldn’t get that feeling of closeness.”
That feeling of closeness came one day when Debra was feeling very low.
She recalls to the Mirror: “I opened the box and licked my fingers and just dipped them into the powder.
“Before I knew what I was doing they were in my mouth and the chalky, salty taste was comforting.
“I felt confused by what I had done to begin with but the feeling of comfort and closeness it brought was the first bit of solace I’d had since her death.”
Now, Debra tastes a small amount of the ashes almost every day, either on her finger or with a small spoon.
And she’s hatched a plan to get through the Christmas period. Debra says: “Christmas is a special time of year when you want to be close to the ones you love the most.
“But I don’t want to just eat the ashes on my fingers – I’d like my mum to be a part of the celebration this year so I will have her with my Christmas dinner.
“We will have a place laid for her and a picture of her on the table so she can be with us on the very special day.”
And as she faces this difficult Christmas, Debra knows her decision may be met with criticism from some quarters.
She says: “It is the only thing that will get me through my first Christmas without mum.”
“People might think I’m mad or that it’s not a very respectful thing to do but I just can’t stop myself.
“I see it as a positive thing – allowing her to be close to me and also involving her in the family day.
“I feel like she can live on by being inside of me because if she is part of me she can breathe through my body. My breath is her breath.
“It will be my first Christmas without her and I want her to be involved and this is the only way that feels right to me.”
Debra’s fiancé says he supports her through her grief, and they plan to marry next year.
Read the full interview.