Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Grief and the holiday season

December is a time when emotions are heightened. For those of us who
have lost someone in our lives this time can be one of the hardest. I
can only speak to my own experiences but it is my hope you will find
solace in them.

What do I do to aid my broken heart at this time? Many years ago I
gave a child up for adoption, her due date was Dec 5, she bounced into
this world on Dec 16 then went to her new family on Dec 20. Yes, truly
my heart was broken. What did I do?

Days after her loss, when the feelings were so fresh I went and bought
a ring with her birthstone and wore it keeping it where I could see
it. Having something to represent our loved one with us brings tears
yet also the knowing they are okay. My daughter was alive yes, but no
longer a part of my life, the grief is comparable to the death of a
child. For all of you Mothers (and Fathers) who have lost a child, be
kind to you. Know they are okay, where they need to be, that what you
believe in is taking care of them and although this will never be
okay, one day it will become okay the way it is. Each year her loss
hit me without fail, making the Christmas season very difficult and
unsettling for me. I would light a candle knowing she was loved and
safe. Even after my son was born, my heart did still ache. I met the
woman she had become 20 years to the day I gave her up, and you think
this would take away the loss but it did not, for it is the baby I
grieve and this loss will never leave even though I now get to enjoy
the friendship of the woman she has become. Grief is one of the most
powerful emotions we have and we need to respect this fact.

Know you are allowed to cry, feel the loss, miss them horribly and at
the same time, find a way to be grateful for their life, the memories
and their being that was. Find a way to rejoice in your here and now
(even with tears flowing and a broken heart) find a way to smile.
Yes, it is hard but one can be grateful for their life even though
they have lost, somedays are just easier than others.

Write to your loved one, talk out loud to them when you are allow, pay
homage to their memory with your loved ones, even set a plate at the
table if your emotions move you to do so. Trust they are with you and
they are okay even though you don't feel okay.

Grief does not end, many of us forget this. Sadness will hit you
again and again when you least expect it and around their birthdays
and holidays things are often heightened.

After I lost my father I was out for coffee with a friend one day when
I saw an older man enjoying his coffee, the sight of his hands brought
me to tears for they reminded me of my father. It took me a good
fifteen minutes to get it together, the emotions hit me out of the
blue, there was no way to avoid them, so doing my best not to feel
embarrassed I let tears stream down my face. My friend knew not to
feel sorry for me, she knew I was okay and the memories were
beautiful. I wore a necklace I gave my father during his battle with
cancer after he died. I spoke to him often (and still do). His
birthday was Dec 10, so again this year I woke up not happy for no
apparent reason, yes, it still took me off guard, yes, I still cried
and yes, I still miss him. This loss will not ever heal and yet I
know he is okay, I am proud of the man is was and I know he is where
he is meant to be and yes, I am sad that place is not still here with

Being human is not easy. We love deeply knowing one day we will lose
those we love or they may lose us but yet we have the courage to love
anyway for this love is a gift of being human and loss is the gift of
knowing they got to go home.

In December we often self reflect more than usual with the new year
coming, stress heightens and sometimes the cruelty to ourselves
heightened. The one thing you need to remember is not to be to full
of expectation. Christmas is just another day, you MUST remember
this. And the new year does not mean you rush to change things or
start new things. No, this is a time just to be grateful and relax
(although we seem to often miss that point). It is a time to be
gentle with you and those around you, a time to reflect and be
grateful for the year that has just passed, a time to just be.

Light a candle for those you have lost. Draw them close. Let your
tears come. Be grateful for the family you can still touch (even if
they are now only your furry friends). Just recognize even with all
your loss, you still have your life and those you have lost wish only
that you live. No, it doesn't have to be perfect, nor eloquent, it
just has to be what it is and that will be enough.

Hugs to your heart from mine for I know how deeply painful this time
can be, I made it through, even during the years I only lost me, I am
still here doing the best I can do in each moment in time knowing the
next moment is just a breath away.


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