I feel like I should open this post acknowledging something very important. This isn’t going to be the happiest of things I share. But in truth, this post has been on my heart for a few months. And whether you find that you personally are grieving this holiday season or know someone who is, I hope you know you’re not alone and maybe learn something new.
I lost my father in April of this year. It was very unexpected and very shaking for me. Not too long after his brother passed away as well. You could say that the 26th year of my life was quite challenging. So for myself and my cousins, this will be our first holiday season without our dads.
Now I am by no means an expert in grief. My mom was a hospice nurse and could probably tell you tons of things. But I do know that everyone grieves differently. And I can only imagine how grieving during the holidays looks for some. If you have tons of family traditions with your loved one, I imagine that the hole they filled will feel rather large. For me, I only saw my dad a few times of year. However, there are still the small things that remind us our loss this season. I experienced my first last week when I realized I no longer needed to put my dad’s name on my Christmas shopping list.
But I don’t want to regale you with my tale of woe. One of the reasons I created Savee & Savory was to be helpful. Anything and everything I can share to make your life healthier & happier is my goal. Emotional health falls in that territory. So today, I thought I’d share what I, as someone grieving through the holidays, think others like me might want you to know.
There is no time limit
I guess people assume because you aren’t talking about it that you’re over it. It’s not the truth. Again, grief looks different for everyone. And it doesn’t always hit in the ways you would think. So whether your friend lost someone 5 months ago or 5 years ago, it probably still aches. A loss is a loss. There are no do overs. There’s no bringing them back. This is a not a supernatural tv show on CW where no one seems to die. Please take the time to remember that what you see may not be all of it. And however long it takes for them to work through it or learn their new normal is okay.
You can’t do it for us
I think this is one of those things we probably wish someone could fix. If you could lay down your grief or give it to someone else to carry for a while, it might be easier. But you can’t do it for us. Even if we are spinning out of control or don’t seem to be dealing with it at all, we still have to do it. And hopefully, over time we will get there. Standing beside us through the process is as close as you can get to doing it for us. And believe, it matters that you’re there.
There’s not much you can say
Not long after my father passed, another friend of mine lost his dad. He had been sick for some time but it was still incredibly hard. We both had the misfortune of having someone in our boat. Being an only child means dealing with the loss of a parent on your own in a way. And despite having been slightly more ahead in the process, when my friend started walking through it I found myself wanting to say something, anything to help. But I knew I couldn’t. There are no words. And if you feel like you don’t know what to tell us, we get it. We don’t know what to tell ourselves either.
We still need you
One thing I quickly noticed for myself and my friend was how quickly everyone concerned disappears. If you’ve ever looked at the stages of grieving, you’ll know that denial is step 1. And some people may stay there for a while. So all the well intended “I’m here for you”s are lovely but the times when your friend probably needs you most is going to be later. It’s the moments they don’t know are going to hit them. Birthdays, holidays, random tv trailers, there is no rule for it. Remember that grieving is a process and not a sprint. Don’t forget to check in with them. They probably need you now more than they did then.
Staying busy can be good for us
I’m a naturally busy person. I like to stay active. This could mean reading a book or going on a weekend adventure with friends. So the last thing I wanted or needed this spring was to be bored. Too much time to think was a bad thing for me. This holiday season make the extra effort to include your friend who needs it. Sure, they might not be the most talkative of the party. Who knows? They could be the life of the party. But knowing they don’t have to do this alone and can spend time with others might be the best present you can give.
We’re going to do things you don’t understand
For my birthday this year, I asked that no on wish me happy birthday. I didn’t want to celebrate. And I didn’t want to talk about it. I just wanted to survive it. I was already planning for a rough day and with the added loss of my uncle a few days prior I knew I just needed the quiet. But not everyone understood. I had friends question why I wasn’t celebrating my birthday. They insisted that I had to do something.
But here’s the thing. I don’t. I don’t have to do anything except you know pay taxes, go to the dentist and all those other adult things no one likes. If your friend has a thing they’re doing that you don’t get, respect it. And unless they are seriously harming themselves or someone else, let them be. You may not get why they need to do something but for them maybe it’s how they are emotionally protecting themselves or dealing with the day to day. Hopefully, one day they will get to okay but for now let them do things you don’t understand. They need it.
So if you’ve stuck with me this long, I want to say thank you. And if you’re a friend who has stood by me this last year, I want you to know your kindness and love doesn’t go unnoticed. To all of you who are mourning the loss of someone this holiday season, please know you have my deepest empathy. If I could reach through my computer and hug you, I would love nothing more. I say this at the end of all my Youtube videos but today it seems the most fitting: I love you, you matter to me and I’m so glad you’re here. And please don’t hesitate to reach out if you need someone.
Thank you for joining me today
All my love,