I’ve read a lot of posts lately about grief over the holidays. I don’t want to take away from those posts because they are beautiful and they are honest. A lot of what is said resonates with me. However, everybody grieves differently. We all go through different things, and because this holiday season my heart has felt a bit heavier than usual, I wanted to write about my own thoughts.
Today while running a few errands, I parked at a library to cry, and to write some thoughts down. As I was driving, I started to think about losing friends, and I needed to give myself a moment. Because I cried in my car, and I wanted to write it down, I thought I’d speak up about my experience on the subject. The truth is, I will grieve every Christmas. It’s not something that will go away. I feel it the most during the holidays. That’s not to say I don’t grieve on other days as well, but the holidays hit me hard at times.
I am, by no means, an expert on grief. I never want to be an expert on grief, but I have experienced loss. I have grieved. I’ve experienced more loss than I’d like. Before the losses, I never knew what the term “with heavy hearts” meant. I do now.
A few years ago my ex-boyfriend was killed in a car accident. We had broken up earlier that year and were still friends when he died. He died a while ago, but some days, it feels like yesterday. I’m not writing this post to talk about specific deaths. I’ve done that. I’m writing because he died a week before Christmas, and I still remember exactly how I felt over the holidays. Thinking about it brings me to tears instantly.
I was a mess, as I’m sure everybody who lost him felt. (And there were many.) There was a point on boxing day when I just needed to stop. I stayed in my old room for most of the day because I couldn’t imagine facing my family. I couldn’t make myself get out of bed. I was confused, and I was sad, and I was heartbroken. I was so heartbroken. It wouldn’t be the last heartbreak. I didn’t want to talk about it that day. I just wanted to feel it.
After that Christmas, I was at work and somebody asked me how my Christmas was. I didn’t know what to say so I just said it was okay. For some reason, he needed to know more. He asked me how it could only be okay, and I finally told him that somebody died. It’s uncomfortable for some people to see your pain. They don’t know what to say or how to react, and that’s not their fault.
What I learned from that moment was that it was important to talk about it. Telling people what I’m going through is important. If you don’t know what to say when somebody tells you something incredibly real, offer a hug, or a smile, or an “I’m sorry.” Even asking questions is okay. Most people want to talk about who they lost. I did.
That same Christmas, I was grieving somebody who was still alive. My grandma was there for Christmas dinner, and I realised how far her Alzheimer’s had advanced. I missed her. She was there, but I missed the grandma who asked questions and listened. I missed the grandma who knew me.
It was the hardest Christmas I have ever had. I went through a lot of changes and healing in the years to come, but I also continued to grieve. I still continue to grieve. I remember the exact moment I found out. I remember the last time I spoke to him. I think about him every Christmas. There are so many what ifs in life. I constantly think what if he were here? He would be celebrating Christmas with his family. We would call one another and catch up on our lives. I would tell him about my son, and he would laugh his famous laugh at the ridiculous things my kid has done.
I’ve lost an aunt and all my grandparents as well. These losses are also heartbreaking. All I can think about is how much fun they’d have over the holidays watching my crazy toddler. I wish he could know his great grandparents, and his great aunt. They would make him laugh as much as he would make them laugh.
I’ve written about my friend, Crystal before. She was killed in the summer of 2018, and I think about her every day. I am no where near being done hurting over her death. The what ifs for her come up all the time, but once again, holidays are the worst because all I can ever think is “She should be here.” My friend should be here. She should be celebrating the Christmas with her daughter. Her daughter would be about a year and a half now, and sometimes, I can close my eyes and see them. I can imagine the photos she would send me of the two of them decorating for Christmas. I can imagine the talks we would have about our crazy and wonderful toddlers.
It makes me so sad because she should be here. My heart continues to break. My grief hasn’t ended.
It never will.
Holidays are hard. They are hard for anybody grieving. I’ve kept myself really busy these past couple of months, and the moment I needed the most was today. It was sitting in my car crying. I needed to give myself that time to hurt. Tonight, I needed to write about it.
You can’t stop your grief because things are going on around you. It’s important to take time to heal. It’s important to take time to feel. It’s important to talk about it. If you know somebody who is feeling sad this season, please let them talk about it.
There is something else I do that helps, and I’ve been trying to teach my son. I try to be happy. He knows he feels better when he’s happy instead of sad or mad, but he forgets. I forget too. We are both allowed to feel sad or mad, but after I’ve dried my tears, it’s important for me to sing a song as loud as I can that’s on the radio, or dance silly dances with my son, or write, or simply hug the people I love. I want him to know this. I’m allowed to be sad. It’s impossible not to when all you want is hug a loved one that’s gone. But I need to be happy as well. I need to be grateful for the life I live, and for the people I was lucky enough to know.
If you are feeling sad this year, or grieving somebody you’ve lost, I hope you stay as strong as you can. Talk about how you are feeling. Cry. Yell. But also, remember the great times. Because I’m sure there were many.
You are amazing.
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