Holiday season brings joy and good spirits — and to more than a few of us, it also carries another, sadder melody of melancholia, and even grief. The emphasis on seasonal gatherings of family and friends also accents the absence of those who are no longer with us, and we may find ourselves suddenly awash in grief.
The first Christmas without a loved one can be especially harsh, but the pain and grief never really fade away. Years later, out of the blue, here come those tears again, with the unshakable blues and the harsh cold wind of grief cutting down to the bone.
Knowing these feelings are natural doesn’t really help much at the time. Grief drowns that out. If you’re lucky, you learn over the years to just let the tides of grief wash over you when they come. Difficult and painful as that can be every time, the only way out is through the feelings. Again and again and again.
I’m sharing this holiday grab-bag of articles about grief in hopes it helps someone else struggling with grief in this season of joy.
The Surprise Visitor
Grief: the uninvited holiday guest…
And then it happens: A song on the radio, a smell coming from the kitchen, a photo on my timeline, a keepsake unwrapped for the first time in twelve months—and there he is sitting close beside me again: this Grief that doesn’t take a holiday.
Grief Changes Everything
Overwhelming in its power and unexpected in its reach into our lives, grief changes everything, so it’s not surprising it can impact your brain functioning so completely.
I began to wonder if I was losing my mind.
And, in a way, I was.
At least the mind I had BEFORE my son was killed.
The initial shock was only a beginning.
The Worst Thing to Say
Yet our culture has treated grief as a problem to be solved, an illness to be healed, or both. In the process, we’ve done everything we can to avoid, ignore, or transform grief. As a result, when you’re faced with tragedy you usually find that you’re no longer surrounded by people, you’re surrounded by platitudes.
Another Wrong Thing to Say
Why grief isn’t something to just “get over”
The emotion of grief may be triggered by the loss of a loved one or the result of a life circumstance. Many people believe that if you have effectively mourned a loss you will then achieve closure. The notion that one mourns a loss and then gets over it, to the extent that emotions about the loss are not triggered in the future, is a myth.
What No One Ever Says
The one thing no one ever says about grieving…
One moment you feel you’ve fully moved past something, the next moment it’s right back in front of your face.
That’s because grief is insidious, imposing and demands to be felt. Even if you’re able to somehow avoid it all day long, grief comes back to you in your sleep. It’s laying right on your heart as you wake up.
Grief doesn’t say, “I’ve been here long enough, I think it’s time for me to leave.”
Seeking Solace in Our Grief
Just as death itself is inevitable, so is grief. We will all lose someone or something and the loss can chill us down into our souls. Still, there are ways we can try to use our grief to develop our compassion & personal power.
If we have the tools to navigate it in a constructive way, grief can liberate us from fear and help us cultivate a deep sense of compassion. This notion was completely foreign to me for the first half of my life during which time I would unconsciously let my grief become anger and project it at the world around me.
In the end, I wish you peace within all of your feelings, and if that includes grief this holiday season,my heart is with you there, too.