Grief and Holidays

The holidays are here and the expectations of getting together are near. The anxiety and the resistance start to creep up in your throat and chest. The first reaction is to fight it. I don’t want to feel sad during the holidays, I don’t want to feel this wall of resistance build up again. It’s been almost 4 years since I spent Christmas with my dying dad. He, at this time, became a zombie. Walking around randomly not knowing what he was doing. Not recognizing who we were sometimes. It has been almost 6 years since my sister-in-law completed suicide. We had taken family pictures in November – the last time my mother-in-law has wanted to take family pictures because she can’t stand that thought of not having her in them. It has been almost been almost 16 years since my husband took his life.

Christmas 2017

Those who have not suffered through grief don’t understand how one year you are perfectly fine but then the next year you are in utter pain. Grief comes in waves from one month to one year to every other year back to every other month. After my parents divorced when I was 11, I hated the holidays. Then throughout the years, it became apparent to me that the holidays were never going to be something I can genuinely enjoy BUT  as an adult I have grown to love being around my family and friends. I need them during the holidays. I have made some amazing friends that are like family and my extended family (all my in-laws) have helped me reconnect to my “sweet spot”. That part of me that I thought was dead but fires up when they are around.

Holidays can be so bittersweet. I love them some years then others I can pass. This Halloween, surprisingly, I was not into it. I ended up getting sick (I’m still sick) and wasn’t able to participate in anything. Halloween is usually the holiday that I make a big fuss about. I usually decorate, find a fun costume, and make my husband annoyed. This year, my 7-year-old daughter had to convince me to decorate the week before Halloween, get the candy for the trick-or-treaters, and get her costume together. That usually never happens.

Me in 2017

I have to be okay with not “feeling it”. I have to be okay with being pushed to participate just a little so that I’m not Scrooging on my kids. I know that I will be loved by them regardless but it’s important to show your kids that it’s okay to not always be happy. It’s okay to not always get excited when the holidays are approaching. It’s good to show your kids that self-care is more important than putting on a fake smile to appease family and friends. I do mean “self-care”, leaning into your sorrow and pain is taking care of your emotions so that you are not stuffing them down and letting them rot in your gut.

Life is ever evolving and the setbacks can build you or bring you down. What you choose to do with the grief you feel right now can build you or break you. I choose to build on my strengths. I have survived before and know I will continue to survive. I am realizing more and more that stress adds to grief. Almost like a trigger. when life is a little more stressful, the grief bug comes poking itself up. I will acknowledge it and move on. It’s just a reminder that I’m still human, that I have loved deeply, and tomorrow is a new day.


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