So December has been crazy. We had grades due, conferences, and a big Christmas show to put on. It went really well, but I was starting to notice some stress. I wasn’t sleeping, my stomach was all thrown off, and I was kinda not eating. And then as each thing got ticked off my to do list, the stress seemed to get worse and worse. Less sleep, less food, more tears… And then it hit me – grief. Grief was rearing its ugly head just in time for – or rather because of – Christmas.
So how are you supposed to handle grief during the holidays?
My father died in 2015. Last Christmas was technically the first without him, but I think with everything my mom was dealing with, we were all distracted. We were so focused on taking care of her that we didn’t quite process what Christmas meant without him. This year, though, it hit me. And it hit me hard. I thought all these other things were throwing me off, but it was not having him here for Christmas.
It doesn’t matter how long it’s been since you’ve lost someone, it can still hurt. It’s okay if it still hurts. It’s okay if you’re off because of it. It’s totally okay to miss them. You don’t have to pretend like you’re fine and nothing’s wrong and you’re doing fine without them. Don’t judge yourself for missing them; it just shows how much you loved them.
I know I’m super sensitive, and I know I hold onto things forever. So at first, I thought there was something wrong with me, like I was weak and alone in feeling like I was falling apart because of the pain of missing my father. And then one night, it was like a dam bursting, and I cried to my mother. I cried my eyes out. And I realized that she was trying to hold it together, too. I realized that my whole family was feeling the same intensity of pain. And there’s comfort in that, because the pain of loss comes from a place of love. We can all sit there and realize how much love there is in our family, which brings me to my last point…
On Christmas night we spent a couple hours watching old home movies. Were there painful moments? Yes. (Painfully embarrassing ones, too…) But do you know how hard we laughed? How good it felt to remember? How good it felt to see us all happy? It was healing. It’s hard to lose someone, especially dealing with it around the holidays, but you never lose the memories and love. And so when it gets particularly hard, you have to remember the good times.
Grief sucks, but it’s a part of life that we all have to learn to deal with it. Hopefully if you’re experiencing grief, this helps. And if it doesn’t, please know I’m sending you lots of hugs and love.