Being a bereaved mother at any point of the year can be incredibly difficult. No matter how many years have passed, the grief can come like new in an instant. Sometimes, I feel like bereavement during the holidays is like a refrigerator with the door left open (Great analogy right?!). Anyone passing sees the door's open, but they keep walking by, not closing it. All the while, the fridge keeps making its beeping noise telling someone that the door is open and that they need someone to help them close it. No one really notices until the light finally goes out, then wonders why all of a sudden it's not working anymore. People see you, people in your life know what happened to you, yet they keep walking by not stopping to see if you need help. When you finally shut down or go MIA, that's when anyone notices something is wrong.
I've grown accustomed to these feelings coming and going through the years. I usually give a heads up about it to those closest to me, as not to alarm anyone when I act differently. It has become something I expect to happen. This holiday season, I've been facing a different dilemma.
The holidays aren't an easy time for everyone and bad things happen regardless of it being the "most wonderful time of the year". We all struggle and face challenges, and we all need someone we can talk to process it. This season, I'm having a really hard time having empathy. Through everything that's happened in mine and my family's lives, I've always tried to keep myself reachable. Meaning, I try not to seem untouchable to others, so they feel like they can open up to me without feeling guilty or that their problem is insignificant compared to what I've been through.
I've been feeling myself becoming more calloused as the holidays have rolled in. 99% of the time, I only have myself to process my feelings to. It's a hard road to be on. One I'd never wish on anyone. This year, I feel like my heart may have shrunk three sizes too small because of this.
I've found myself thinking how everyone seems to be whining and complaining so much, some about things with no real value. All I can think is I have to carry the ox yoke of grief and sorrow around my neck for the rest of my life and go about everyday like nothing's wrong, why should I care about this flea of a problem?!
It's a terrible thing to think and makes me seem heartless, but my mission for my blog is write authentically how life as a bereaved parent has effected my life and perspective. I may have had moments of this thought in passing but I haven't been in a position where I had grown so cruel in my thinking toward people.
I've had to make more of an effort this season in this area, and through it, I've learned a few things that I hope will help others who face this difficulty:
Keep yourself present: Try to keep yourself open to the joys, tears, and fears of the season. This keeps you grounded in the now, hopefully keeping your mind on what and who's around you.
Don't compare: Comparison is a thief, but it also shuts you up in such a way that it can feel like trying to break out of Fort Knox to get out of yourself again. On top of the other struggling emotions I face this time of year, it almost seems impossible at times. Comparing the now to the past puts brick on brick, creating a walls to shut other people out.
Try to keep your humanity: We're all going through hell on earth, some in different degrees than others but it all hurts the same. Keep your heart kind and if you have nothing kind to say, just try and keep it to yourself. There are certain obvious exceptions to this rule, but use your best judgement.
Let yourself feel, then if needed, let it go: There's nothing wrong with feeling calloused towards things after going through a life-altering experience, you have a right to. Your feelings are just that, feelings. Acknowledge what you feel, then let it pass and try to keep moving forward. Feelings are important, they gauge where we are, but you shouldn't make decisions based only off your feelings.
I know this isn't the typical holiday blog full of wonder and cheer, but I do hope it helps someone come out of the darkness and find comfort and joy in knowing they aren't alone in this fight to keep their humanity.
Merry Christmas everyone! God bless and have a great holiday season!