My mom passed away less than a month before Mother’s Day making that Mother's Day the second worst day of my life. That first year with my mom gone was like a punch to the stomach on every holiday and celebration she missed. But there are a few things I learned and I hope it helps those of you who are grieving this holiday season.
You might not feel like celebrating the holidays at all, and that’s okay. When you’re overcome by sadness, celebrating is the last thing on your mind. Give yourself the space and time you need but also don’t cut yourself off completely. This is a time when you’ll need the support of your friends and family the most, so please take it. It helps, a lot.
“Don’t stay home by yourself.”
“Come to the party, you’ll feel better.”
Your friends and loved ones will inevitably tell you to get out of the house and try to enjoy yourself. They aren’t saying this because they are insensitive, they are saying it because they love you and want you to feel better.
When someone you love dies, the grief is unbearable. The tears are never ending, the pain in your heart almost unendurable and there’s a sickness in your stomach that never goes away. But it’s impossible to maintain this level of grief for long periods of time and your body needs a break, a release. If you can surround yourself with friends and family who will help comfort you and take your mind off your grief, even for short periods of time, that release is a godsend.
You decide to leave the house and go to a holiday party and suddenly you’re overcome with guilt.
Why am I out celebrating when I should be home feeling bad?
Whoever it is in your life who is now gone would have wanted you to enjoy yourself. Because that’s what we want for the people we love, happiness. While you may not be able to overcome the guilt, please know there is nothing wrong experiencing moments of happiness.
Keeping your memories and stories to yourself is like trying to grow a flower in a dark box. Even though it can be painful and will most likely make you cry, when you share stories you’re keeping the memory of your loved one alive. The more you share, the more they are with you - the day you stop talking about them is when they truly die.
Every year my boys take turns putting my mom’s Christmas angel atop our tree. I like to think it’s her watching over us throughout the holidays. Create your own tradition that involves your loved one. It helps, I swear.
I know it feels like your entire world has been turned upside down. When my mom passed away I felt like I was in a nightmare from which I couldn’t wake up. But I promise you your holidays won’t always feel this way. Let me be clear, they will never be the same again but you’ll find new and different ways to celebrate and there will come a time when you think of your loved one with a smile on your face instead of tears in your eyes.