How are you holding up during this holiday season?
You know how they say that the holidays are particularly difficult after a loss? Definitely true. While I had some enjoyable moments with my family, I was (and am) very sad.
How have you been coping?
Well, I tried to limit the holiday activities. No decorations, no parties, no gifts, very few social engagements. My dad and stepmother came to visit from Minnesota, and their presence was reassuring. We did some activities at home, like baking and crocheting and going for runs, that really helped relieve some stress. Overall, I felt best when I was occupied but unscheduled, and in my own environment. However, my mom’s cousin did have a small Christmas dinner that I attended. I felt Mom’s presence there, and I’m glad I went.
What surprised you the most?
How exhausting it could be to try to keep it together in social situations. When you feel like a balled-up wad of grief, its hard to force a smile and the fa-la-la-la-la. Sure, you can argue that no one expects me to be happy, but on the other hand, nobody wants to be the chick wailing in the corner at a Christmas party.
Any favorite holiday memories of your mom?
When I was about 5 years old, I had an ear infection on Christmas. I really wanted to go to church for the candlelight service– I loved having my very own candle. I remember being fussy and in pain, but my mom held me and soothed me so I could stay until the candles were lit and everyone was singing “Silent Night.” I felt protected and loved and surrounded by magic.
Do you have advice for others experiencing a loss around the holidays?
Talk to some trusted friends/family. Exercise. Take sleeping pills. Don’t have any expectations, and make no commitments that can’t be changed.