Every holiday season is a mixed bag of emotions. It is easy for us to be "over sensitive" to life around us. This past week, I encountered an abundance of unusually grumpy people. It is important to remember that that this is a sensitive time of the year for many other people as well.
I wrote this statement a few years ago and it remains appropriate:
"The holidays are a big magnifying glass. When you have a "perfect" feeling family, it feels joyous. When you have that crazy aunt or uncle that annoys everyone, this crazy feeling is magnified. When there is a death in the family and that loss is there, that loss is magnified. When there are unmet expectations in life, such as divorce and loneliness, the feelings associated with that event is magnified. Holidays magnify the best in us, such as our charitable side. Holidays also bring out the worst in us, such as when we see life's disappointments.
Humans disappoint us because they are human. Sadly, when life has dealt trauma and drama and permanent separation of normalcy as well as grief, the holidays have a flavor of sorrow.... Reflect on what this holiday magnifying glass shows you personally this year. Blessings!"
My first Thanksgiving and Christmas without Logan are still so painfully memorable... for someone who was in a fog. Those who know me well know that I grieve many other losses during the holidays. The loss of your child is the "Primary Loss." In my situation, it is the "Secondary Losses" that I personally grieve now.
In speaking with many of you recently, I have noticed that many are feeling "anger" or overall agitation now. Like I have said before, NONE of these feelings are "Normal", but all of what we are feeling is "Natural." When the empty chair is ignored.... It is hurtful but natural. I believe that it is common for the BIG invisible elephant in the room to sit in the middle of the activities.
Remember-- Often people are fearful of mentioning the absence and loss of our child (every day but especially on a holiday). This makes many of us angry at times! Why wouldn't it make us angry?
But... when looking at their side, they don't KNOW what to do or how to support us. If this is your first holiday season without your child, you will probably notice people whispering in the background - "How is she doing?" If this is NOT your first holiday, everyone is still wondering how to respond. Before my Logan died, I had no idea how to support people who were enduring the very long process of grief. I THOUGHT that I did, but I failed miserably. When people ask "How are you doing?" Answer them honestly... "Today is hard for me. Thank you for asking."
Know that this is a time of tremendous and conflicting emotions. We are oversensitive to people's actions and words right now. Protect yourself by taking care of YOU and your family.
But mamas, please remember... YOU are the backbone of the family and you must MAKE yourself relax. Carve out time to have a long bubble bath. Maybe go have a massage or a pedicure. Lay down and take a nap. You do not HAVE to make dozens of cookies.... cut down on the "celebration" part. BREATHE.... relax those shoulders down...
One of my friends who lost a child several years ago - their family went to the movies on Christmas. "Some things you cannot do again." It was too painful to "go thru the motions" for them... but now that there are grandchildren, they are trying Christmas again. This is a goal of mine one day as well.
So to wrap this up...
- You are oversensitive
- You may feel anger... try to not let it get so big that you BLOW up
- Protect yourself
- People do not know what to do to help, so TELL them
One more thing... During the holidays it is especially important to "count" your alcoholic beverages. In the past you may have been able to handle a few alcoholic beverages, but now you are in danger girlies. Count to one and (at the very most) two on special occasions. Cut yourself off. Be aware that this is a pitfall that you do NOT want to fall into. Statistically, one year after the death of a child, 40% of parents have a drug or drinking problem. (Compassionate Friends data obtained from the book *Surviving the Loss of a Child*)
Just know that this too shall pass.... This is a very important season in our lives. Also, you are not alone.... There are MANY mamas who are silently standing in the shadows supporting you. Please email me if you have questions or need additional resources. You are NOT ALONE. Hugs and blessings to all...
Ps-- I'm planning a weekend retreat in January. Message me if you are interested.