Saturday, 7 December 2019

UnHappy Christmas

Christmas is not a jolly holiday for everyone. The prospect of being alone when everyone else is talking endlessly about time with family. All the painful emotions of divorce arise again while discussing who has Christmas morning with the kids. There are difficult family dynamics. People you avoid throughout the year and suddenly have to spend a lot of time with, to please other people.  An estranged child noticeably missing from the table.  For many people Christmas is a time for all the family grievances to be aired in passive aggressive and deranged ways. Ho Ho Ho, everyone.

And the one that will get us all in the end, the loss of a parent or loved one. The first Christmas without them we expect to be difficult, only to discover it is painful every Christmas without them. I have noted every December I become angry. Disproportionately angry at sexist remarks or political shenanigans, to the point of rage. Or more realistically, there is an under current of rage building that is waiting for anything to unleash on. Anything but the cause, that my dad died. Grief is a very odd beast.  I am at least aware of it when it begins to brew and once I realise what is coming, I can usually reign it back in, or at least not have a blow up with someone important (over something unimportant).

For me, and grief is different for everyone so there is no right or wrong, I think I have a subconscious stress to the build up of Christmas that dissipates before the actual day. If you are struggling with grief at Christmas, here's what I've learnt. Be aware of your emotions. It may not be sadness that is the driving feeling.
While the loss is painful, celebrate the memories too, the joy and shared moments. It's worth focusing on the feelings you had when you were together - it brings the person back to you. For me it's made those waves of remembrance a nice experience that brings me comfort, rather than the painful feeling of loss.

Remember you carry that person around with you in ways you never imagined. A life well lived leaves a big hole but it lingers quite tangibly with those that loved them, and that presence is still there and guiding you as before.




Time doesn't make loss easier, but how you navigate it can make grief less painful.

May Christmas be full of the joys least expected.

Linking with #Lifethisweek

My Random Musings


32 comments:

  1. Your points about grief are very true. We do carry those who have left us around with us in lots of ways and it's not only the first year that's hard. I can relate to what you are going through in some ways and feel for you. Hoping the time ahead is Ok and you are able to enjoy some joys. #mlstl

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  2. So very true. Sending you positive thoughts and prayers. #MLSTL

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  3. Thanks Lydia for wise words from the wise woman. I notice a growing crankiness around Christmas but in my case, it's more about less tolerance. I grieved the loss of Christmas that was in 2015, 2016 and 2017....as our families changed and did not see each other. Last year, we had a small Christmas lunch here and I got some of my mojo back and this year, I am doing something I never thought I would have the emotional energy to do...we are going to our daughter's in Sydney on Christmas Day. So for me, yes, time heals somewhat and the memories become less vivid and more gently and to be appreciated for what the represent. A time of gratitude (you knew I would say that, right) Love to you...especially thinking of you as a girl without the presence of her dear dad. Denyse #mlstl

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  4. Grief is a monster Lydia and I can hear your pain in this. The other side of the coin is that you had a father who you miss because your relationship with him was loving and strong. I wish I could say the same about mine - we don't even notice his absence (how sad is that?)
    I hope your Decembers become gentler with time and that you can use Christmas as a time of happy remembering x
    Thanks for linking up with us at MLSTL and I've shared on my SM ☺️

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  5. That first Christmas without my father was hard, especially since he died on December 5th. But, our family gathered together and included him in our Christmas by telling stories and laughing together. Things he would have wanted us to do. Years later, my brother died on December 10th. He was only 57 and I was not ready for that. But I grieved differently for him. That year, because it was so was such a shock, I just put up a simple fake tree in the corner of the room and I looked at it every night until February. I looked at it and remembered our Christmas' together. In February, I turned a corner and was able to let him go and pack away my tree. This year will be the first year without my mother, she lived until she was 99 and died on January 3rd. Even though she'd been ill since Thanksgiving, she died in January because she refused to died in December. Since she was a child, too many important people in her life died in December and she didn't want to do that to anyone else. It's also my first Christmas since I moved away from my family to another state...so we'll see how that grief rears up in the next couple of weeks, I guess. You are so right, that we all grieve in our own way, and I even do it differently for each person.

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    1. I think that's kind of lovely that you used the tree as a symbol of your brother to make yourself think about it (though it probably didn't feel lovely at the time). I think it's worth being aware of as most Xmas posts are focusing on how wonderful a time of year it is, but for many, it's very difficult. But as Leanne says above, I guess it's lucky to have people that you miss so much. I'm very sorry for all those losses, but especially the most recent, your mother. Be kind to yourself and take care.

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  6. The holidays are complicated, aren't they, Lydia? I love the line "A life well lived leaves a big hole..." That's what I keep reminding myself when I feel sadness for those I am missing...at least I am lucky enough to have been a part of those wonderful peoples' lives. I hope you find joy and peace this Christmas.

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    1. Robert Webb said 'Grief is an echo of love'. I think it sums it up beautifully.

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  7. This is true for any holiday, Thanksgiving is the tough one in our household, but I think Christmas is the worst. I wonder if the seasonal changes, cold weather, darkness play a part. Wishing you and yours peace over the season #dreamteam

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  8. Christmas is definitely a tough time for grief as it brings back so many memories of those who are no longer around. It's tricky to find the right mind set to remember the happy times rather than getting lost in the sadness. #StayClassyMama

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  9. I think this is why the holidays are stressful for so many people. I remember our first Christmas without my mother-in-law, and when we were planning it, my father-in-law saud, "Don't be afraid of change." We completely changed some traditions, instead of trying to emulate the way she had done things. That really helped a lot.

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  10. This is true for any holiday. For me it's the Chinese reunion dinner. I can feel your pain in this.

    Happy Sunday, Lydia.

    #kcacols

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  11. It certainly can be a difficult time for many. Thank you for sharing such a personal reaction to the season with us on the #DreamTeam

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  12. All good points & important for us to remember - well said #DreamTeam

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  13. This is all so very true. Wishing you a peaceful Christmas #KCACOLS

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  14. Oh yes... my father's no longer with us, but I suspect I grieve the things I've never had at this time of year. It's similar on Mother's Day, Valentine's Day etc... there's such a family / love / kids focus I'm reminded that I don't have that (well, partner and kids) and mourn that for a while. Of course I realise those who do aren't necessarily happy anyway. x

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  15. Wise words indeed. My grandmother's funeral was last week so it is still very raw. Christmas will be bittersweet as I enjoy time with my children but remember the loss of my own childhood with the death of my final grandparent. Thanks for linking up with #stayclassymaam

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  16. It can be a very difficult time of year. There are so many expectations that can be impossible to live up to and conflicts and stresses seem to intensify. I hope you can focus on all the good memories to lessen the pain of grief. Thanks for sharing this with #kcacols and join us again next time.

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  17. I agree with all you say about grief. It doesn’t get easier over time.,I found it bubbled away for years and in recent years, when some would say I should be over it, it has become much more difficult to cope with. My only advice would be to take care and just accept how you’re feeling on any given day #lifethisweek

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  18. Thanks Lydia - I can very much relate to this post. This Christmas will be our third without Dad. I feel it every time just as much as the first time. His empty chair. The absence of his usual Christmas greetings and hugs when we would arrive. Watching him open his gifts and his goofy facial expressions. I also don't get to see my nephew and niece for Xmas lunch as they spend that with their father (my sister is divorced). Regardless, I try and draw on the happy memories and soak up all the moments we have, especially with Mum. xo

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  19. I think you nailed it when you said "time doesn't make loss easier, but how you navigate it can make grief less painful." I also think a big part of living with grief is as you say, being able to draw comfort from memories rather than them causing you pain. Go gently x

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  20. Great advice Lydia and as you know, my husband and I have recently lost his Mum which was unexpected. It is certainly going to be a very different kind of Christmas this year as she was a huge part of our celebrations. We all grieve in our own way and at the moment we are just taking it day-by-day. #lifethisweek

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  21. A lovely reminder Lydia. I know the first 'everything' without my dad was really hard but I was lucky I spent it with others who were feeling the same way.

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  22. Every special occasion is a reminder of those you have lost. It never gets easier. Christmas can be very stressful for many reasons. Trying to juggle time with everyone that is important to you, even when they sap the light out of the day, can be very tiring. Taking time for myself to do yoga, meditate or read, can help me through the Christmas season.

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  23. Christmas is definitely a catalyst for families isn't it Lydia? When all's good it's so special, and when there's a rift or a loss, it shines a light on that area too. I'm grateful that we haven't lost anyone who leaves a hole at our Christmas table - but I know it will come eventually....

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  24. I enjoyed this just as much as I did the first time I read it Lydia, your words rings true! #lifethisweek

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  25. Interesting re-read and of my comments from a year ago. I am thinking of you as I know more sadness is happening right now for you.....

    Thank you so much for linking up this week for #lifethisweek. We are nearly at the end of 2020 and only a few optional prompts left! Next week is 49/51 Lucky 7.12.2020. Hope to see you there. Denyse.

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  26. I know where you're coming from. I lost my 90 year old mother in June this year. She has been a regular at our Christmas, She will be sorely missed. Best wishes to you this season and I hope the sadness lifts for you. x

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  27. I can so relate to what you say about grief - somehow it hits at Christmas doesn't it? It's such family-oriented time, it just makes it more obvious when someone is missing. Always miss my dad at Christmas :( Sending love and hugs xx

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