Grief During the Holidays

Special occasions are a magnifying glass. They’re a spotlight. They are a harrowing silence that is deafening to the heart.

Holiday cheer is like pom-poms shaking in the midst of defeat. It feels unnatural.

My first Christmas without my husband, I chose to embrace all the season had to offer without him dragging his feet. (He wasn’t the most “Christmasy” person.) It was my distraction during the month. But then when we actually sat down for our Christmas lesson on the actual day, (what he normally did), it ended in one daughter escaping to her room in tears, the other breaking down at the table and me trying to hold it together.
The following year, I didn’t want to embrace anything. I wanted to skip it. I wanted to pretend it wasn’t.

Holidays can emit a whole variety of responses. Even changing from day to day. If friends aren’t sure how to support you, join the club, I couldn’t even keep up with my own feelings.

Holidays are special moments. Special moments should be shared with special people. They create special memories. Picture-worthy memories. And when a special person is absent, never to rejoin, it kinda puts a damper on the mood.

Ya feel me?

Don’t get me wrong. I love Thanksgiving. I love the emphasis on family. I love Christmas. Deep inside, I still do. I love what it represents. I love what special emotions it can emit from the spirit of mankind.

But that empty chair…. The stocking that hangs with no one to claim it…The void of his name on any gifts…The absence of his laughter (or sometimes in my case his complaining) is a very real and present reminder…a reminder of what I lost…a reminder of what used to be…a reminder of how life is irrevocably different…a reminder of that hole in my soul.

Holidays bring a distinct contrast, like splatter of neon green against a white background. More than normal life, it makes the loss pop in colorful, bold ways.

Big hugs to you this holiday season. As we each try to embrace the cheer that feels foreign and try to be thankful for what we still have. Big hugs to you as we try to not let the grief swallow the festivities for us and others around us while trying to summon the previous pleasure these days used to hold. Big hugs to you as you try to look forward while also honoring the past in these moments.

Big hugs to you.

And if you are going through the motions, feeling like a fake, just know how brave it is to step into the light of celebration with the darkness still hovering in your heart. And if you are afraid of losing your cool and ruining other’s fun with a breakdown, just know how brave it is to be willing to try. And if the grief is strangling all desire to partake, just know how brave it is to be true to yourself and do what is healthy for you.

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