Of course there is currently much talk about the holidays, and how to cope with them after experiencing loss. I understand the good intentions behind discussing, thinking, and preparing for the upcoming season. And that it might not be a bad idea to have a “plan” in place….
Me and my husband – we were our own little unit. A self-sufficient satellite station. We both grew up with families that were low-key about the holidays, wonderful families with virtually no drama or expectations about where we spent our Thanksgiving, or Christmas, families that also happened to be very far away – mine, across the country, his, on an entirely different continent. So we all actually felt it was more enjoyable for everyone to visit in the off-seasons, without any of the potential holiday travel fiascos.
I loved our simple holidays, just the two of us, and our dog.
I would see the frenzy building around me, people freaking out in the stores in their cars on the planes in the parking lots – aaacccck the holidays! The commercial build-up that is so pervasive, we no longer know anything different. It gets broader and wider, bleeding into the calendar days earlier every year, actually leading us to believe that if we aren’t stressed, harried, or stretched thin between too many commitments, we are obviously losers, with no family and friends.
We made a concerted effort not to fall into this trap…and we were pretty successful. We had to buy gifts early to send overseas in time. We often shopped on line, focusing on a few meaningful gifts for each other, and a delicious home-cooked meal. The most goodies to be unwrapped (well, torn apart and shredded) were always for the dog. That was our joy – and just spending the time together.
And yet, somehow, this year the holiday hype is already creeping into my world, working its way into grief, and grief support. And I find myself falling for it. Are you prepared? The holidays are coming, the first ones since your loss! It will it be hard, really hard…you know, “the holidays”, the big commercially hyped-up month of December that makes lonely people feel even lonelier? This all assumes that I fell for the hoopla before, and I didn’t.
Though, of course, I can’t deny that the absence of the other half of “our unit” won’t be felt. It is exactly because of how small our unit was, that it will be felt.
I don’t know what to expect of myself, my grief, or the holidays. There are dates that I thought would be hard, that haven’t been as hard, and other events (like Halloween) that I never expected to bother me, that completely struck me down on the sly. I know my family would like me to plan a trip to be with them, it will be my mother’s first Christmas without my dad. I am torn, and can’t put the planning off much longer.
But I keep hearing a tiny voice. Coming from deep inside. It’s faint, vulnerable…like a newborn. And it is saying, don’t fall for the hype. You know what you need…during this holiday season. Listen to your inner voice. l i s t e n.
I want to spend it with my husband, at our home, just me and him, and our dog. And even though it will be different, very different, than the years past, I need it to be just me, and him – or lack – of him. That is what I plan to do. I know it will be hard, and others might worry for my loneliness. But somehow, I sense that being alone this Christmas, “without” him, will be the closest I can get, to being “with” him.
That is absolutely beautiful, and I am a 100% believer in that little inner voice that you describe. That’s your instinct, and it’s always right. I know your mum may be disappointed and some people may complain, but now more than ever, you need to take care of yourself. This is not a time for people – even your mother – to ask you to make sacrifices. As the mother in this relationship, she should be willing to make the sacrifice for you. You are, and always will be, her child that she brought into this world, and your happiness should take priority for her now and forever.
I’m a strong believer in the spirits of the departed being here sometimes, with us. I’ve had an experience, and I know another woman who confided something to me about her partner who died.
I’m glad you’ve made a plan. If it’s what your inner voice is telling you, then it’s the right one. Might not be easy, but it will be the right one.
I spent Christmas alone one year. I wasn’t experiencing bereavement, so I can’t imagine how that feels, but I was completely alone. I stocked up on good food, champagne, and DVDs (this was before they had the digital TV etc) and I just kicked back, had a movie marathon, ate, drank and enjoyed the company of my two little dogs.
People do make a huge hype about the holidays. But really, Christmas is about a very poor young couple, a journey on a donkey, and giving birth in a stable surrounded by farm animals. If you are Christian or not, those are the historical details. The rest is commercialism.
Thank you. I so appreciate the thought you put into your replies. I know you write a lot about the “inner voice” and/or honoring our inner child, it’s an easy voice to ignore, and I think I probably have ignored mine for a while. I feel like I have an opportunity to reconnect with it, to strengthen it. It does feel very faint right now…but it IS there.
Oh that’s very beautiful, that you are feeling an opportunity to reconnect with your inner voice. In the beginning, it’s normal for it to be faint. But knowing it’s there and trying to hear it … well that’s wonderful and very touching.
Sometimes that inner voice can break you down or lift you up, it depends on the day. But it is never wrong is it? Beautifully written and it makes me want to give you a hug.
You do have a plan…a beautiful one.