Allowing Yourself to Grieve This Holiday Season

Monday, December 7, 2015

And in my heart, there stirs a quiet pain... ~ Edna St. Vincent Millay

Grief is not the same for everyone. This I know. Some people have strong support systems and some are able to heal with time. Some have had difficult relationships with loved ones that leads them to have conflicting feelings once that loved one is gone. And some, like myself, have had such a profound relationship with a loved one that once they are gone, it feels like you've lost a limb. A part of you is forever gone. Grief is something that not everyone likes to talk about. This I know too.
In the last four years where I have lost both my dad and brother, it has been the best and worst times of my life. And I feel like I'm on a constant rollercoaster ride that won't stop. When I'm at a high, it's amazing. I'm productive, empowered, driven and happy. I want to conquer the world, go on adventures and just live and be free.

When I'm at a low, it's horrible. I'm sad, depressed, don't want to get out of bed and sometimes spend days in the house, not wanting to leave my safe haven. I feel like a shadow of my former self and all I can do is weep. The pain in my heart cannot be ignored.
I feel like the pain will never end. And I feel alone and just want to cry. Everything hits me at once. That damn grief rollercoaster. I want to yell and scream because I'm angry; I want to sob because I am so heart-broken. But this pales in comparison to how I start to feel once the holiday season nears.

During the holiday season, it's especially hard for those of us who have lost a loved one. I have so many fond memories of my dad and brother this time of the year. When I looked at my brother with his daughters, I saw my dad's reflection of how he was with us growing up. You can see that love and admiration a father has for his children (in my experience). That unwavering, unconditional love that drives you to make your children happy and see them enjoy life's moments. And I don't mean material gifts. I mean, the time spent together, laughing, loving each other and creating memories that will always remain in your heart and mind.

My dad's birthday is November 10 so around late October, my anxiety starts to rise. How will I deal with his birthday and the holidays? This is what I ask myself repeatedly. 

And people always ask me the same question, wanting to know how I deal with this pain I carry, especially during the holidays. And I tell them...

It's not easy. But I always remind myself to take it one day at a time. To be kind to myself. Let myself have the moment and move on. It's okay to cry and feel that pain. Because it will pass. You have to allow yourself space to have those moments but also remember to not STAY in those moments. 

When I take it one day at a time and give myself a break, I don't feel overwhelmed or like I MUST get over it immediately. 

That's the thing, grief does not have a timetable so why would you be hard on yourself to get over it?

Lucky for me, I work from home but sometimes grief attacks my creativity. And that's when working from home is not such a blessing. Being a writer is a gift and a curse. It's an amazing gift when I can sit at my laptop or with a pen in my hand and crank out a story or chapter for a future book in no time. But when I am at my lowest, that gift becomes a curse. I don't want to write. My creativity dissolves into a black hole and I almost feel catatonic.
But the one thing I feel that is constant is HOPE. I never hit rock bottom fully. I pray daily to God and it comforts me. I talk to my dad and my brother daily and that comforts me too. That quiet pain will always remain. But I am learning one day at a time to live with it, accept it and build a new life where I can still live fully and not let that pain consume me.

It's by no means easy. As I said before, grief has no timeline. For some people, their grief period is short and they move on quickly. But for others including me, "time does not bring relief", as Edna St. Vincent Millay also said in another poem of hers. It feels like yesterday. My brother's death is still fresh with him only being gone over a year but even four years later, I remember getting that call to inform me of my dad's passing, like it was yesterday.

What I do know and believe is that I'm strong, I'm worthy and I will live fully. I have to. Because that is the best way to honor my dad and my brother.
I have spent four years of highs and lows where I have alienated myself from the world. I have lost friends because they thought it was something personal on their part and didn't realize that it had nothing to do with them. I have lost job opportunities. I have lost time that I cannot get back. So I have promised myself to take it one day at a time and just live. Life is so short and once it's gone, you can't get it back. And even though life can be hard at times, it's yours and it can have wonderful moments. You just have to step out your door and seize the day.

I have a charm on my bracelet that I wear always and it says "Believe". That word has become the sum of my life. As long as I believe in God, myself, in life, in things getting better...basically believing in everything that is possible, it helps me with the pain. 

So whenever I hear Nat King Cole's The Christmas Song, which was my dad's favorite holiday song, I don't cry as much as I used to - I instead close my eyes and remember those times when he'd be in the car, singing along with his deep voice and a smile on his face. Some tears fall but I also smile. 

If you're out there reading this and understand, just know you are not alone. I am sending all of you positive vibes and virtually holding your hand this holiday season and beyond.

xoxo - Marcy

1 comment

  1. Don't give up on hope--your journey is worth more than you realize