For over a decade now, this time of year has been a struggle for me. But honestly, it wasn’t always like that. When my daughters were young, I truly enjoyed the holiday season. Every year, without fail, we spent Thanksgiving at my mom’s, we made homemade Christmas gifts, baked goodies and I genuinely looked forward to sending out Christmas cards.
I haven’t done any of that in a long time. In fact, over the last five years, my daughters and I have taken trips to the mountains (like Estes Park, CO) or we’ve tried to find something new to do instead of all the traditional stuff. Honestly, I’m not sure how they feel about the lack of tradition or how exactly we shifted into this over the last five years. I have wondered if it has been a good change for them or not. I really don’t know. What I do know is that I have done my best.
After my mom died in 2007, (3 years after the loss of Brian and Brittany, my husband and daughter) it has always been a struggle to keep a brave face and enjoy the holidays. Did I enjoy seeing all my loved ones? YES… but the hole in my heart is still there.
Can you relate to that feeling? Life on the other side of what YOU have been through?
The first year after a tragedy, everything is just so different. All the choices we face in the aftermath of a loss can be so difficult. I’m not sure what is worse: seeing all of those precious ornaments my mom saved for me year after year and to have Brittany’s 8 years of ornaments be a part of everything that IS or rather, to see them wrapped up tightly, keeping them somewhere else like they are precious and mourn over her quietly. I never did find the right answer, because… there are NO RIGHT ANSWERS with grief and loss.
Initially, I chose to keep those ornaments out and a part of everything else (half faking it and half unsure what to do) and then somewhere around the 10-year mark I finally had the courage to wrap them up and not take them out.
I want to take a moment to acknowledge YOU.
Every one of us is in a different season right now, and today I would ask that we just be okay with that. I’d like to urge you to acknowledge how you truly feel, and then despite what everyone else tells you “should” feel or be, simply just let the emotion of what IS be what it is.
No judgment, no pressure… just BE. Let the emotion be and THEN dig deep and make the choice to LIVE and not waste a single moment of what IS.
Right now if you’re putting on a brave face and find yourself struggling, do your best to at least be honest with yourself and trust that it’s okay to feel that way. Then ask yourself, is it possible to grow in the midst of the struggle and pain?
Can I let you in on one of my pain points? I’ve genuinely felt out of place and misunderstood for years. Even by some of my closest friends and family. Do you know why? NOT ONE OF THEM HAS BURIED A CHILD, and few have lost both their spouse and their mom too.
One secret to my success of truly loving myself was learning to be my best friend. Sometimes, I was the only person that was OK with me. Wait, did you catch that? I WAS the only one OK with me… How is that possible? Because I know my entire story and so does the God I love… The GOD who loves me… He whispers ‘keep moving, be gracious towards yourself and keep your commitment to be better today than yesterday.’
It wasn’t always this way my friends. I didn’t always love myself.
Right now, I am in a season of joy and peace. Last year, with much courage, I made a move across the country that has brought such physical pain relief that even though I miss my grown daughters, friends, and family who live in Colorado terribly, it is a wonderful thing to wake up pain-free in Florida and to look forward to what new adventures await me.
With Love, Hope and Happiness,