It’s the most wonderful, bittersweet time of year again. The stockings are hung by the chimney with care, in hopes that St. Nicholas soon would be there. Everyone is making their lists and checking them twice. This is the time of year that we surround ourselves with friends and families partaking in joyous celebrations. But for those of us who are grieving, our emotions are magnified.
You want to be jolly, but there is another part of you that is drowning in massive waves of grief. Grief can be debilitating, especially this time of year. For so many, the holidays become a painful reminder that someone we love is gone forever.
There is nothing holly or jolly about grief. There are no Christmas grief carols. My words are meaningless and annoying to countless individuals. Many readers will probably scroll past this article and roll their eyes at another depressing story clogging their newsfeed during the most wonderful time of the year. This article will be passed for the new invisible box challenge, their Elf on the shelf being silly taking shots of fireball, some new weight loss craze, anything but grief. Many readers will scroll past it until they face a holiday season alone, and when that happens they will desperately want to know if what they are feeling is normal.
Grief makes non grievers uncomfortable because it forces everyone to think about their own mortality. Holiday grief is downright annoying for non grievers, because death puts a real damper on anything holly and jolly. It is easier to ignore the grieving this time of year and tell them they should be “over it” by now.
Burying your emotions with the dead is not only wrong, it is unhealthy. Christmas is the season to rejoice and for someone grieving sharing warm memories of their beloved brings a tremendous sense of comfort. The greatest gift you can give a grieving person is to let them know that they can cry on your shoulder and not be embarrassed to unveil their many shades of grief. An even greater gift is to hold their hand, listen and shed tears with them over their loss. This simple gesture shows your friend that they are not alone in missing their person of significance.
This is my second Christmas without my Dad and I’m here to tell you society has no clue on how to handle grievers and it is even worse during the holidays.
Death will change and rearrange your holiday card list.
You will see people for their true colors after a death. You will experience fair weathered friends, selfish friends, friends who are extremely uncomfortable by your grief, clueless friends and those who are just not ready to comprehend the gravity of your loss. But that’s okay because you will make new friends, relationships will strengthen and you will be awed by how loyal and loving some people can be.
Humanity will constantly surprise you as you walk your grief journey.
You are expected to mourn the first few days, maybe weeks then move on. There is no place for the dead at Christmas dinner so please bury the dead forever. Do not, I repeat do NOT say their name. After the first year it makes others uncomfortable if you continue to say their name, so just don’t do it.
Don’t just say their name; scream their name from the rooftops if you must. It is not only okay to say their name, it is normal and healthy.
The reality is that each and every one of us will endure some form of loss in our lifetime. It’s going to hurt, it’s going to bring you to your knees and it’s going to change you in some way, shape or form. You will lose friends, but you will make friends.
Grief is that ugly sweater Aunt Carol gives you every Christmas. Grief is messy, complicated and comes in all different shades. If you are like me, you start out your grief journey walking around in a thick fog, numb and confused. As time goes on reality sets in that your person of significance is gone forever. An agonizing anticipation that your person is missing now accompanies the best of times. Simply put, there are times when Christmas is hard. There are times when the rush of emotions from the holiday season is exhausting, emotional and painful.
Someone you love died, and the holidays will never be the same. Sorry to be the Grinch, but it’s a new, painful reality.
So please, if someone is wearing Aunt Carol’s ugly sweater, say their name and handle with care. Help us create new traditions and find a reason to celebrate this season.
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