Surviving the Holidays

December 19th is supposed to be the day that we are celebrating our son‘s eighth birthday. Instead, it’s a day that reminds me that I’ve spent eight Christmas seasons without him. It’s a day I wonder what might have been. What would that second grade boy be asking Santa for this year? Would he be the baseball player his daddy always hope for? Would he be artsy like his siblings? I will never know.

I struggle with wanting to fall down into a deep dark hole and stay there until the holidays are over and wanting to live life to the fullest for the both of us. He can’t enjoy the holidays, but I can. I can carry his memory with me and do all the things I would want to do with him if he were still here.

It depends on the day which way I go and, you know what, both are okay. Having sad days where I just don’t want to leave the house? It’s okay. Going out and living life happily? That’s okay too. There is no way I’m supposed to feel or act.

Learning that has been totally liberating. I’m a girl who wants to do things the right way. I’m also a girl who wants to please people. Do you think I should be sad today? What’s wrong with me for being in a good mood? Do you think I should be fine by now? It has been eight years, what’s wrong with me for still being sad?

Can you relate? I think I needed to hear someone tell me this advice for many years. Feel what you feel. Your journey is your own. You cannot compare your grief to someone else’s…it’s yours and yours alone. If you need to stay in bed and take a day for yourself, do it. If you need to go and scream or cry or laugh or dance, do it. Do what you need to do, not what someone thinks you should do.

If you are in an especially dark place, please don’t walk it alone. Tell someone…whether it is a spouse, parent, friend, or another woman who is in this same sisterhood of loss with you. You might feel better to know that you aren’t alone. What you’re feeling is normal and every bit of it is okay.