Winter is hard. For so many people. If you suffer from seasonal depression or anxiety, you have a full understanding of what I’m saying. Add grieving the loss of a child to that and it’s a doozy. Sadness, triggers, and struggle don’t relent just because Christmas lights, magnolia wreaths, meticulously wrapped presents and Pinterest cookies are everywhere. Grief doesn’t take a holiday. Grief takes OVER it.
When you’re grieving during the holiday season, social interaction becomes merely tolerable, every event is an inner battle of wanting to stay home or attending and fighting every minute to survive it. While everyone is milling about festively, you’re silently telling yourself they don’t understand what it feels like to exist in this season when your child, doesn’t.
People expect you to show up. To participate, to be happy, thankful, and excited, just as they are. They naively think that grief isn’t as challenging during this time. And it’s not an outlandish assumption, it’s just not an accurate one. Grieving is a drawn out process and the holidays magnify it. While we might still enjoy bits an pieces of this time of year, we may still put up a tree, string the lights, bake cookies and wrap gifts… there’s a layer of ache there that you can’t grasp because you aren’t us.
So if you know someone grieving during the holidays, even if it’s been a while since their loss, respect it. Let us stay home, let us be quiet, let us have time, let us throw ourselves into safe distraction. Have grace and understanding for the grieving and our needs right now, we are hurting and we are doing the best we can.
*Image by Morgan Harper Nichols