This is something I have started doing randomly on my blog, finding quotes that kind of hit me and sharing because I think someone else may need it it. More information and past posts can be found here.
Today’s particular post comes from a very personal place, but a place that I think needs to be shared more now than ever. This came from late night ramblings and a sudden wave of grief that I did not see coming. Please, read…even if you aren’t dealing with this struggle. Get to know what others might be struggling with and see what you can do to help them this Holiday Season.
The Holiday Season is about joyfulness. It’s about being with your loved ones and celebrating the feelings of the season. It is always rooted in tradition and in memories of years past. But what happens when those traditions come to a halt? What happens when one earth-shattering day changes everything?
It’s been 14 years since my first earth-shattering day, and there have been a few that have followed it years later. Days that have changed how I celebrate this season, how I feel about this time of year and that fill me with bittersweet emotions of the passing time. On one hand, I love this time of year. I love decorating for Christmas and spoiling family members and friends, giving them just a small glimpse of how much I care. I love the baking, the gatherings, and the meaning of the season. On the other hand, I see the empty chairs. I feel the voids of those that are no longer with us. I can SEE how this emptiness changes how we interact and it leaves me aching. Loss never leaves.
So I am writing this for those that are experiencing their first year of the holiday season without their loved ones. I am writing to those that are feeling like they are drowning in the pools of grief and unable to enjoy the season because of it. The people who are spending time plastering a smile on their face and pretending it’s all good as I have done many many times. Know that it’s perfectly fine to not be ok. It’s fine to look at other people’s joy and not feel it. They don’t know what’s going through your head. They don’t know your process. They don’t know this part of you, the part that you keep hidden so well. They were sad for your loss, but you LIVE it. You live it every single day. This doesn’t mean that they don’t feel the void. It doesn’t mean that they don’t notice the empty chair and long for it to be filled again. They were touched by your loss, but it’s your everyday reality. They are at a total different area of grief than you are, and that’s ok.
For those of you that are in that space right now, the space of not feeling the joy of the season, this post is for you.
I know that it’s not going to be easy this Holiday Season. It’s honestly never going to be easy because the loss is constantly present. It’s always there; no matter where you go it will follow you. I have tried many times to escape it, but it always finds it’s way back to me. This ever-present feeling never truly 100% goes away.
Even though the loss is always there it eventually doesn’t crush you in every way possible. As someone once told me after my dad passed (one of the few things that really stuck through the waves of “I’m so sorry” and other well wishes that honestly felt meaningless even though they came from a good place), “Loss never leaves you, but one day you will wake up and not have to remind yourself to breathe.” If there is anything that I have found to be true it is that. One day I woke up and didn’t have to remind myself to breathe. The pain is there, the hurt is there, but I don’t have to remind myself to put one foot in front of the other and put on a brave face. You will get to this day, I promise.
Until that day, hold on to those you love. Find something to do this Holiday Season that helps you think of the loved one you lost. Do something that helps you feel a little bit better, even momentarily. If you can’t do what is expected of you then don’t. Only you know what you can handle today; tomorrow maybe you can handle more. All you can do is take it one day at a time.
To those that are struggling this Holiday Season, please know that I am truly sorry for every post you see for this time of year. Social media doesn’t know how you are feeling, and other people are honestly and truthfully excited. Remember that none of it is to make you feel bad in any way. I am sorry that you are feeling this way, but know that there are always people there to talk to (even if it doesn’t feel like it).
I wish you all strength this Holiday Season.