The holidays can be so hard on those who grieve.
Whether they are grieving fresh losses such as those of the precious children in Newtown, CT, or whether the losses were long ago, absence of a loved one comes into sharp relief at the holidays. I remember last Christmas when we were still in shock from Jack's sudden death. We made it through all the decorating, the shopping, and we even sat in our same place in the church balcony for the Christmas Eve service. We held it together through the hurt.
Then, on Christmas night, we went to the cemetery.
Tim wanted to go, but Margaret and I didn't.Tension ran high as each of us lashed out at the others, saying hurtful words and stomping through the grass as the sky grew dark. We were so broken and angry about Jack's death and the rubble that remained of our lives that the flicker of hope we'd been fanning and trying to keep going seemed certain to go out. I stood there in the cold and dark and felt more alone than I had at any other time in my life.
This Christmas will be different. The shock has worn off, so we feel the pain of Jack's absence more acutely these days. But we also have survived nearly 365 days since last Christmas and (most days) we know that we can and will do this.
It doesn't mean we want to.
It doesn't mean we are okay with what happened.
It just means we can and we will survive. We will laugh. We will remember. We will cry. We will celebrate. We will eat Mexican food.
The flicker of hope has grown stronger once again.
And truly, one of the ways our hope has grown stronger is the love and support others have given us, many times through this blog. Perhaps you need love and support today as you grieve a loss. Maybe you are feeling weighed down by grief as celebrations take place all around you.
A few blog friends and I are proclaiming today "Hugs for the Holidays." If you are grieving any loss, please know that we are here to support you, hear your stories, look at your photos, and lift you up. At the bottom of this post you will see links to posts that deal with certain kinds of grief and loss, such as loss of a parent and infant loss. Feel free to link up one of your own posts, share a photo, or leave a comment about your loss. If you are experiencing another kind of loss, such as that of a spouse, please know that we are here for you too and would like to hear from you.
This holiday season, I hope we will all be able to be gentle with ourselves, enjoy pockets of peace when and where we are able to find them, and remember that we are not alone. Hugs.
For those grieving the loss of a child, I want to share this peom by John O'Donohue
For a parent on the death of a child
No one knows the wonder
Your child awoke in you,
Your heart a perfect cradle
To hold its presence,
inside and outside became one
As new waves of love
Kept surprising your soul.
Now you sit bereft
Inside a nightmare,
Your eyes numbed
By the sight of a grave
No parent should ever see.
You will wear this absence
Like a secret locket,
Always wondering why
Such a new soul
Was taken home so soon.
Let the silent tears flow
And when your eyes clear
Perhaps you will glimpse
How your eternal child
Has become the unseen angel
Who parents your heart
And persuades the moon
To send new gifts ashore.
If you have had a miscarriage, stillbirth or lost an infant link here: fourplusanangel.com
If you have lost your mom link here: sandiegomomma.com
Your dad link here: deaddadsclub.com
Your sibling link here: myinnerchick.com
A child link here: aninchofgray.blogspot.com
A friend link here: kimtracyprince.com
We have also created a special #HugsfortheHolidays Pinterest board so check it out for tips on dealing with grief and some inspiration to help ease the pain during this season.