For a few very hard years this word was my mantra.
The word means
-undismayed; not discouraged; not forced to abandon purpose or effort
-undiminished in courage or valor; not giving way to fear
But the truth is, I was often dismayed by everything that had taken place, and I did battle discouragement. I battled fear and doubts. I hurt and was angry, and sometimes "undaunted" sounded more like a mockery than a mantra, and I was determined to be real about all of it in these posts, thus the name, Undaunted Reality. More than that, though, I was determined to live undaunted, not because I'm so great or strong, but because my God is, and no matter what this world looks like, He is the only reality that matters.
I pray I live the reality of Him beautifully undaunted.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

In the Middle of the Holidays

I've spent the day writing posts about grief and how to help others who are hurting, but I'm wondering, how are you?

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.

If only.

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.


  1. Well I wasn't going to comment, but since you're being so honest... maybe we should be too.

    Right now, I'm doing great. I'm in Spain for the moment, but so excited to be coming home for Christmas... I mean, off-the-wall-bouncing-excited. Don't get me wrong, I love all the things I get to see and my classes and my friends, but I miss home. I've even started a list off all the things I'm going to do when I get home.

    But I can't shake that nagging thought in the back of my head that keeps asking, "what /are/ you going to do?"

    I keep trying to come up with plans for how to keep my parents and me busy as they both face Christmas without their mothers, and at the same time I thank god that Christmas was not the holiday we spent with my grandparents. Because maybe that will help?

    Thanksgiving was always the big holiday. Yet, part of me is really glad I wasn't around for the first Thanksgiving without my Grandma's pumpkin pie and the whole clan around the big wooden farm table. But the other part of me is already bracing for next year.

    But honestly, I just want to make it through Christmas with my parents. I'll be the only kid home this year as well, so I'm planning and asking, "what are we going to do?"

    Sometimes, though, its hard to bring myself to plan anything because I can't stop thinking its all going to be for nothing. With my great-uncle now in the hospital (he's been living with my parents since my grandmother's funeral), and my dad's best-friend's mom dying of cancer, I'm wondering whose funeral we're going to attend this holiday. You'd think you'd get used to it after a while... Letting go, but I haven't. I just seem to want to hold on tighter to the people I have left around me.

    So I've tried really hard not to think about it all while I'm here, because I'm in Spain! And how cool is that? And I've been really sucessful up until recently... But now its all kinda hard to forget when I'm lacing up the winter boots my Gram gave me a few months before she died. I want to tell her how much they have helped me survive the cold here! And its impossible to not think, "Grandma would think this was so cool!" when I see something truly fabulous, such as the Sahara Sunrise. Its the kind of thing I used to call her about, like when we got a foot of snow in DFW.

    And as I think about coming home, its everything I can do to not cry when I remember that I don't get to show her my pictures from this trip and tell her all of my stories.

    And Christmas shopping...It was always easy buying christmas gifts for my grandparents, because you just put both their names on it, but it was really for Grandma and she always loved it... and Grandad like seeing her happy. So this year, what do I get my grandfather? I don't know how to shop for him. Such a silly thing to be concerned about, but its a real problem for me. Thats my reality.

    How do I shop for only one grandparent?

    And I used to feel bad about feeling bad that I was so sad because I missed my grandmothers... I mean, at least I still have my mom and dad right? But thats not fair to me. Sure someone else has lost their parent, and they are in a hell I don't even want to imagine... but my grandmothers were people too, and people are all the same size, so it doesn't really matter who you lose, does it? You're still walking around with a person sized hole in your heart.

    So being here in Spain is great, I mean really great. Its like taking a mini-vacation from life... You're away from everyone and everything you know. You miss everyone, and its not because their dead, so its like no-one is dead. For three months, I've gotten to pretend non of this happened... except now I'm coming home, and I want to come home. I do, I miss my family and my friends (and oh my gosh I miss the food!, but it also means walking back into a life that is missing people. And part of me doesn't want to do that.

  2. Dear Anonymous,
    You are one of the most courageous people I know.
    I love you deep.

  3. Thanksgiving this year was hard. I started the season all excited for Christmas and then came Thanksgiving. Being with my large family--each with their own family--and knowing my family was with their dad and his new wife at our old home sitting at our old table. Just. Hard. This was our 4th Thanksgiving not as our old family unit, but the first one that hurt. It's much easier when he takes the kids to NY than when he stays here with them for the holidays. I have them for Christmas, but I would rather trade those holidays. Oh well. Next year maybe!

  4. I actually plan on talking about the fact "better" does not care about how long it's been since the loss. There are so many factors involved, and emotions react to different situational cocktails. People think because "it's been (insert time), you're should be fine." If only.