Metamorphosis of Holiday Grief

For many of us, the holidays are just another day. A day to reflect on how much our lives have changed since that (or those) fateful day(s). While many others have to go on celebrating holidays with other loved ones, too often grief is a topic that isn’t discussed. People prefer not to talk about those who are missing so as not to dampen the mood of excitement. What a lonely time to be surrounded by so many but forced to put on a smile and pretend that the grief in our hearts and minds has disappeared suddenly.

I’ve been told, “I didn’t want to upset you so I didn’t ask about them. I thought it would be better not to say anything.” That is a very isolating statement although filled with love and ignorance. I am eager to share ridiculous stories of my brothers and dad. I would much rather be given the chance to speak rather than be silenced by the heedless actions of those who I spend my time with. Grief is desolate as it is. Give the grieving space to be who and where they are during times that are meant to be joyous. Let those who want to share the same stories you’ve heard a million times as they would be told even if those who are missing were still here. We all have those repeat stories we love to tell again and again.

This year the holiday grief has morphed a bit for myself and my family. Both of my beautiful nieces became mothers this year. I have spoken before about the unexpected milestones in our lives and here we are again. I remember the last Christmas I was able to celebrate at home in Ohio with my dad Bubba, both of my brothers, my mother, and my nieces. It was a special time and none of us had any idea that it would be the last.

I am ruminating about how so much has changed in such a beautifully sad way. Those sweet babies will never get to laugh wildly at their grandpa and uncle. They won’t get to sit on Bubba’s lap while he naps. They will miss out on the magical love those three men would have shared with them. And at this moment my heart breaks in a new way. My tears feel different, heavier maybe.

So I am here to remind you that if you care for someone who is grieving no matter the timeframe, ask them if they want to share a memory of their loved ones. Or at the very least, tell them you sympathize with them and their feelings. Give a safe space for them to feel whatever they feel. Not everyone will be ready to talk or share but just holding space will give comfort not many grievers experience.

So to my sweet great nephews Raiden & Xander, I will always hold space for you. And I will continue to do so for your amazing mommies.