Christmas is my favorite time of year, but every year I debate whether putting up my angel babies stocking is the right thing to do. It does bring an overwhelming amount of sadness and regret. I grieve the life I would have had, if there were 2 girls in the house right now. The stocking makes me sad. I tried to not put it up last year but there was much protest from my daughter and the husband. They want to remember.
Holidays are tough. The pressure we put on ourselves to make the best dinner, ice the perfect cake and trim the best tree is astounding. Not to mention the hatchimal incident of 2016 and the forth coming fingerlings incident of 2017. Then add in laws…relatives… friends and significant others to the mix and the holidays simply become pure chaos. Add to this chaos, a grieving person’s heart and everything becomes unbearable.
My grandmother raised my siblings and me for the better part of my childhood while my parents worked to achieve the American dream. She died the day after thanksgiving in 1990. We spent that thanksgiving in the hospital cafeteria. We loved her immensely and when she died we all fell apart. We didn’t do thanksgiving for several years after that. Our world crashed to a halt but everyone else was full steam ahead. Now we honor our grandmother and her legacy through our lives and following her example. We learned to love the holidays again. We knew she would want us to celebrate and be thankful for her life.
So what are some practical things we can do to get through the holidays with a grief laden heart?
First things firsts, remember its ok to say no. Don’t overwhelm yourself because this will for sure lead to anxiety and disappointment. Just do what you can to make the holidays special for you and your family. Don’t “try” to do more. Set limits because you are already grieving and that it is going to take some energy and effort. There is also a fine line between saying no and being a hermit. Don’t forget to do your normal.
Make new memories:
Incorporate old traditions, like hanging the stocking, with new ones. Make new memories whether it is making a loved one’s favorite cake to writing a letter or even making a special ornament in their honor. You can try to include the family but remember this is for you and your heart, so don’t get disappointed if they don’t want to participate.
Make space for your grief:
I know I always say this but it’s so important to take a walk back through memory lane. It’s important to make space for the grief that is the new normal in your life. Fighting it, resisting it and pushing it down will only lead to delayed grief. Eventually you will have to face it and come to terms with the fact that it’s there. You will learn to cope with the grief in your heart and your pain will look different from year to year, so it’s better to just give it a handshake, introduce yourself and walk through life together.
I wish I could personally hug each of you. As the holidays approach at lightning fast speed, know that you are not alone. I am walking this journey too. I am praying for you and thinking of you.
PS: I am hanging the stocking.