Is it “Happy Holidays” or “Merry Christmas” ..
…for people that are grieving the loss of a loved one? Speaking from experience, which in my opinion makes me an expert*, I can say that while I am incredibly happy for the people that are able to truly enjoy the festivities that Hanukah, Kwanza, Christmas and the New Year bring, it currently no longer promotes that feeling within me. And now having had this experience, my naïve’ wish going forward, would be that no more people experience such a tragedy in their life.
At the 2 year milestone this Christmas Eve, my grief is still fresh. I would like to believe that over time, life and the holidays will become easier but in the conversations I have had with people that are in their 10th, 15th and even 20th year of loss, they still have that gap within them. They say when you lose someone of such a significant magnitude, every single day will never be the same and that definitely applies to the holidays. While I believe that gap will always be there, this is where my favorite expression comes into play for me and how I plan on moving through the remainder of my life,
“Life is about the choices you make, regardless of what happens to you”.
For those that know me, that expression defines me. I am not a negative person, not at all. I think that I am doing a good job of keeping my shit together; allowing the tears when they come (does anyone have a great “antidote” for puffy eyes?), getting up each day with the intention of making it a good one, focusing on how I am able to help others and dealing with the fact that I will never hear my daughter’s “actual” voice again (I say “actual” because she speaks to me in dreams but it is still very different). The little things I miss daily are her giddy contagious laugh, hearing her special “cho cho train” text ring on my phone or feel the comfort of her warm embrace. Those are just the simplest yet most profound things that immediately come to mind. There are so many other things, big and little, that surface daily for me and remind me I am “on my own” during the regular every day of every day. So the holiday season is an even deeper reminder of the empty space I am trying to navigate, not fill, because that would be impossible. Unfortunately, there are so many people in the world feeling the same way I do during this season.
For those of us are finding our way through this holiday, we are trying to make decisions like “do we”;
- Leave an empty chair at the dinner table in their honor
- Donate to a cause in their name
- Make a toast to their memory
- Make their favorite foods
- Hang an ornament for them
- Watch their favorite movies
- Write a post about them for social media
- Display their photo with a candle
- Put up a tree
There are definitely many other options to consider, NOT because it makes us feel better BUT to acknowledge who they were and stood for. Personally, we don’t set the chair at the table because for me it feels as if I am not coming to terms with the fact that she is gone and am waiting for her to come through the door at any moment to sit with us, but that is just me. Each of these will feel different to everyone and there are many more things that can be done. It is very important to me that not only is Sydney remembered but also that people do not get uncomfortable hearing her name. I find that most people shy away from having conversations that involve the person that has passed on. In my view, that is dishonoring all that they were and are as they walk another plane watching over us.
I share this not so you feel sorry for me (don’t you dare!!) but for awareness. So you take a moment in the next few days to stop…take a breath…think of the people you know that have lost a loved one…and send them a positive thought, action or word. Always remember, so much love can be shared simply by an intention.
Syd came to me in a dream and showed me what “millions of candles lit” looks like from her vantage point now and said “Momma, its like going to a concert and everyone is waving a lit lighter in the air at the same time. That’s what we see here.” It was a beautiful sight to behold and a fabulous reminder to me that the light we create is as bright a light as she was when she walked this plain. And I am sure I can say that about the lights of all of those that we love and have lost.
So this holiday season, no matter how often or how long, please take a moment out of your busy schedule and breathe, show gratitude for your many blessings, light a candle and send the intention of “unconditional love and you are not alone” to those you know who are finding their way through grief this holiday season.
*experience/expert – I say this because I have seen many articles online from “experts” this holiday season about loss and the holidays, claiming to be an expert yet not having personally experienced what they are writing about. That is not walking their talk. This is just my perspective.