Do They Know It’s Christmas?
We have a local radio station that switches to an all Christmas music format the last week of November. Despite having heard about a study recently that says listening to Christmas carols too early can reduce Christmas spirit, I decided to tune in at the beginning of December, in the hope that I would be the exception to the rule. Grief has made the last few weeks tough, and as Christmas approaches it is becoming more difficult to keep it together. I’m trying really hard to muster some excitement for the season, on behalf of my family and friends, but I’m really not feeling it this year. One carol in particular gets right to the root of my struggle. As any number of the singers (how is it possible that there are so many versions of the same song?!) croon “I’ll Be Home For Christmas” I realized the other day that I will never be home for the season again. Or for any other family oriented function, for that matter. My home- at least my childhood home- like my parents, is gone. Add one more thing to the list of things to grieve.
Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer
Rationally, I know this is ridiculous- after all, I am sitting in my own home as I write this, but the place I could go and always be taken in has disappeared. I have learned that grief is rarely rational. On top of my own feelings of loss, it dawned on me that I now hold the responsibility for providing “home” and “tradition” for my own three children, in the absence of their grandparents. How do I maintain that when I feel as if my own axis has been ripped away? Can the memories of what I had, be enough to sustain me?
You’re a Mean One, Mr. Grief
To further complicate this crazy little thing called grief, this fall my lack of grief has created guilt. Days would go by before I would remember mum was gone, and then, instead of sobbing, like I did when my father passed away six years ago. I found myself sighing instead. Grief is always different, I would remind myself. It definitely doesn’t mean you miss your dad more, or loved your mother less- though my ugly self always whispers that into my ear. I find myself longing for those autumn sighs, as it has become clear that I was simply saving up my grief for Christmas.
Living twelve hours away from family in a wintry country, we’ve stayed on the West Coast and celebrated Christmas as a nuclear family for years. This year, outwardly, is no different than the last twelve. Except, it is, because this is my first Christmas without my mother. It makes sense, that my grief for her would be tied to the traditions of the season. Christmas was the family celebration my mother carefully curated and produced for me, just as I’m doing for my own kids. She passed on, or created, so many of the traditions that are the cornerstone of our own celebrations. New pajamas on Christmas Eve. A special ceremony to put Jesus in the manger. Christmas crackers during our turkey dinner. So many of our decorations were sewn by her, or gifted to us by mum. I don’t know how I’m going to get through it, to be perfectly honest. And, I’m terrified that I’ll ruin everyone else’s Christmas.
Santa Claus Is Coming to Town
How do you make it through the season when you’ve lost a loved one? It’s not like you can opt out, especially if you have kids of your own. It’s up to you to find ways to cope, as it always is when you’re grieving. Honestly, I have no idea. I welcome your suggestions in the comments below.