Christmas music is playing on almost every radio station; stores are adorned with decorations and holiday planning is in full force. Don’t get me wrong, I love Christmas time. But I have also experienced enormous grief during the holidays. I am writing this post from my perspective and experience of losing both my Mom and Dad. It is only meant to give you some personal outlook on how for some the holidays are not always holly, jolly.
In the past few months, even weeks, I’ve had numerous friends experience the loss of someone they love dearly. When I lost my Mom it was two weeks before Christmas. To be honest, I don’t really remember a lot from Christmas Day. I do remember how my heart was broken and I struggled because I had a 16-month-old that needed Christmas to feel “normal.” When we lose someone close to us, normal is not a word we relate to. Our worlds are turned upside down and inside out. Grief is different and individualized. This is so important to remember. What may work for you, may be totally different for your friend.
The most important thing is to take care of yourself. Listen to your heart and your head. Folks are going to say all kinds of words, some encouraging and others less so. Take your time. Don’t rush and feel like you need to “put on a happy face.” No one understands exactly what you are feeling. If doing a simple celebration is what you can handle this year, than that is what you should do. I felt pressured by some people to celebrate Christmas right after my Mom passed. It was the hardest thing I have ever done. I left church many times to cry in the bathroom and felt like the world around me was passing by while I was stuck. Don’t let yourself feel pressured to do more than you want.
When we have little ones, or even bigger kids, it gets tricky. As Moms we want to be strong for our children. I can totally relate to this! After losing my Dad, it helped me to scale things back a little. Each year it became easier to get back into the spirit, but it takes time.
If you have a grieving friend, offer to make them meals. This was an enormous help when I lost my Dad. I had a two-day old newborn and a toddler, so cooking was not high on my priority list. Friends and neighbors were so helpful during this time. Maybe offer to take your friend for coffee or lunch. Ask him/her if they want to talk. Please do this! After losing my parents, it felt as if no one wanted to mention anything so that I would not get upset. Most people want to talk and share memories. It helps keep our loved ones near.
Be there. Let your friend know that you love them and that when they are ready, you’re a phone call or text away.
This picture is from the last Christmas with my Dad. A treasure I keep close to my heart.
May you be filled with Peace and Hope this Christmas season!