The Holidays After Loss

This is for those who have lost loved ones and for those who want to help support someone who has lost a loved one. I wish I could have told those around me before what I needed during this time of year but I was too deep into my grief to do much of anything. I hope this helps someone just a little.

I want you to know, truly know, that whatever you’re feeling right now is okay. If you’re excited about the holidays, that’s okay! If you’re angry and full of rage, that’s okay. If you are numb and have no idea what you’re feeling, that’s okay, too. It’s okay to be and feel whatever it is at this very moment. And it’s okay if those feelings change in an instant. The rollercoaster of life and grief can spin us in motion without us even realizing what’s happening or where we are going. The only true advice I can give for that is to allow yourself to experience those feelings but to let them go as quickly as they come. Holding on too tightly to our emotions is when we become stuck and I’ve been stuck before and it’s excruciating. Let those feelings move through you like a breeze on your cheek, experiencing it without touching it.

This part is for the supporters. Thank you for being there when many times those grieving are left alone because others are unsure what to do. The best course of action is to physically be there just to hold space. Sometimes we don’t know what we want but what we need is to not be detached. Grieving during the holidays can be arduous and lonely. By letting that person know you want to be near may be what gives them the courage to allow themselves to feel hopeful.

Another aspect that many people seem to shy away from, which can be most damaging, is pretending like the ones lost never existed. People don’t want to say their names because they don’t want to upset those grieving but hearing other’s speak their names give their life even more value. Sharing stories of those who are gone breathes life back into their memory and keeps their spirit strong in the hearts who are left behind. Ask them to share their favorite stories with you and ask why it’s their favorite. People live on through our memories because we love them and because we share who they were and who they are to us in those anecdotes. Those are what keep them closest to our hearts.

Life is tough. Feelings are exhausting. But the love we get to share with those near to us is why we are in this wildly, unapologetic world. And even with the constant soreness I feel from losing my two big brothers and Dad, I want to talk about them. I want to make people laugh by telling them all the stupid things they would do during the holidays!

(Bubba, Joshy and Allfaye, we miss you so much. Make sure Momo isn’t getting into too much trouble. I love you more than ever. Lots of XOXO)

Grief Greetings

For many, the holiday season is fast approaching. Nothing can stop it from rolling on in, not even a worldwide pandemic. Definitely not the heart wrenching grief that fills my existence just weeks before Halloween.

You see, for me, it’s not Season’s Greetings. This is the season of loss and realization that I am much more alone than I like to admit. I’m also burdened with a deep sadness that strips me of all my fabricated happiness that I’ve conjured up. It’s the breaking point of where I cannot hide behind the success I’ve had both professionally and personally.

October 31st (or at least very close to it) is usually a fun and exciting time for many. They get to decorate their homes and persons, celebrate being someone or something else while surrounded by people they love or new possible friends. So many different things happen around Halloween for people of all ages. Most get a sliver of excitement within their own boundaries. My brother Adam absolutely loved Halloween. He went all out with decorations and parties. Adam made you feel light as a feather with his magical entrancement of the holiday that ended with the start of his birthday with the strike of midnight, Day of the Dead.

Of course, this is just the inauguration of the Grief Greetings. Not far behind is the blindside of December 1st. It seems to slide me off track like rubber on black ice. Never even seeing it before I realize that I’m spinning out of control with anxiety and flashbacks of that call. Wondering if this has all been a bad dream when I realize his number doesn’t call him anymore.

Then of course, everyone around me is making plans with their families and complaining about someone that they have to “put up with” at the family gatherings when all I want for Christmas is for my brothers to drive me crazy so I can roll my eyes at them and I laugh hysterically. The actualization of never experiencing these moments with them again steep deep into my essence. Moments overcome me when I want to wail my pain and frustration out of my soul and into the chilly air for all to experience.

Grief Greetings. Ah, I am not alone…yet I am. Christmas Eve and Christmas Day will come and go. I will inevitably sneak off into the bathroom to cry for my brothers and Dad, wishing them happiness and peace although I really just want them to magically appear when I open that door back up with rosy cheeks.

So as you make your way to your Season of Greetings and Holidays, fully and sincerely enjoy yours for those of us who may not have that ability. Our journeys may not be the same but we all still have love to remember and give.