How are you doing this holiday season?
Was Thanksgiving okay? Did you make it through alright?
I'm being serious. I know Thanksgiving can be...whew. Those empty chairs or broken traditions or the wrong person making the dressing. They can be...almost too much.
Shoot. Sometimes they can be too much. Last year was the first year without Mom and Rob. Before that, my family came here, and we had to add chairs to the table, and it was loud, and...I couldn't stand the thought of having no one here last year, so we didn't. The kids and I volunteered to serve dinner to folks who had no place to go.
Sometimes the past echoes too loud for the present to be bearable. When that happens, it's okay to say, "I can't do this." It is okay to change the tradition to do something new. To find a place to breathe.
In case no one has told you...
Don't be afraid to find your own place to breathe.
And what about those of you who have a few holidays under your belt? How is for you this year? Is it better? Harder?
The first holidays without Mom stung, but there was so much other trauma going on that my emotional and mental processes didn't really get clicking about Mom not being there until the second year. I was shocked at the difficulty of last year. Wow. I missed my mom.
And it was harder in some ways because it was the SECOND holidays, and we all know the worst ones are the first ones, right? After that, it should be SO much easier.
Sometimes the numb is still there the first year and the second year slams you like a tsunami.
I found it shocking, which was hard, but it was harder because I didn't want to say anything to anybody because I'd already heard enough of the "you should be over it" stuff. I didn't need more of that, so I mostly stayed quiet. Not sure that was the best answer, though.
How about you? Has that happened to you? Is it happening to you? If so, who are you missing? Want to tell me about them? About the pain? About the missing?
What about right now? Today? How are you?
Are you looking ahead a few weeks and trying to figure out how to get through that day that you are just sure is going to bury you? Or wondering how to get through better than last year? Or maybe you are like us and are actually very excited about the holidays this year. Feels good, doesn't it?
And for those who are wondering if you'll ever get to a place that actually feels exciting or happy or joyous again, if you keep walking through the grief, you will. It may not be next year, and it may not be the second year, but you will get there. I wondered if we'd get there because it felt like we'd never get out of the shadow of pain, but I can tell you we are joyful, and we are excited, and we really do anticipate good things. I know it sounds cliche', but time does help.
Or are you just trying to figure out how to get shopping done for the ones still here but aren't staying? And for some of you, the loss is so recent...the gifts have already been bought...and you can't take them back and you can't keep them and...Dear God in Heaven, what do you do? I don't know, but I cry for you, and I pray for you, and I ask Him to give you strength for today, for tomorrow, for this holiday and the ones to come.
You know, people might tell you that you need to do this or that, keep this or that tradition, whatever. They are afraid you're going to get stuck in misery and never celebrate again, but I think sometimes a year off is okay. I think sometiems it gives you a chance to focus your energies on healing. Sometimes it is good to let others take over and cover you. Sometimes it is good to just let the day go by without anything. Only you know what you are up to. Don't be guilted into anything, and don't feel like a failure if you just decide you can't do this.
Sometimes healing is enough to do.
The big deal is making it through this.
Sometimes, just getting through the holidays may feel bigger than you. When that happens, step out of something or step into something you need that feeds you in some other way.
For us, we stepped out of the family dinner at home and stepped into helping someone else. It was a good diversion. Friends invited us to join them, but really, we just needed to be us that day, and we were. If you need to just be you, give yourself permission to do that.
Really, the big deal is to get through okay. There is no right way or wrong way--okay, lots of booze or gratuitous sex is not a right way to handle things. But hopefully, you get understand what I'm trying to say.
Be kind to yourself.
Give yourself room to heal.
Give yourself room to grief.
It's okay to cry.
It's okay to be angry.
It's okay to hold those homemade ornaments and cry so hard your body aches.
It's okay to stay in bed a day or two. I know people will tell you not to do that, but I've talked to a lot of folks who have found a day or two in bed didn't end the world. There is something about just giving yourself a day to let the hurt work through, to let the missing wash out, to be empty...and not need to be anything else. It really is okay. Just don't stay there. :-)
And I give you my word, it does get easier. It isn't perfect, but it is easier, and I know you can get there. I know this year may seem like it'll bury you, but I believe you can make it. I'm praying for you. Don't give up. Keep going. Even if still going means going to bed for a day. :-)
In the meantime, I'm really wondering--how are you doing?
**If you would like me to pray for you by name, leave a comment with your name in it. If you don't want it published, just let me know, "Jer, I'd like the prayer, but I'd like it private." Or if you don't want to give me your name, that is fine, too. Just drop a line saying, "Pray for me." I will. The road this time of year can be mighty hard when you are walking it alone. I'm with you in Him. Blessings.