Holidays…not always merry and bright

Holidays, particular Christmas, are rough for grievers. (Author’s note: published a bit late!)

Holidays tend to magnify emotions. Grief is no exception. It has been rough recently; Thanksgiving through Christmas is a tough stretch. Christmas is a time of happiness and joy for children, a source of wonderment as wishes are fulfilled and gifts are received. Sitting in Santa laps, feasting on Christmas treats, posing for holiday photos, dressing up in festive holiday pjs and sweaters.

In the same way that holidays can amplify feelings of togetherness and love, they can also, with remarkable, stark clarity, remind you what you don’t have. We aren’t unique in this. Grief around the holidays is a well-known phenomenon. Even if things are happy and ‘normal’ (whatever that is), the holidays tend to be a bittersweet time. A grandparent is no longer here, missing out on a young one’s happy moments, travel woes, a bad memory for whatever reason…holidays can be complicated.

Luke stocking

But for those newly in grief, at least for me, the bitter seems to very much outweigh the sweet. The fact that Luke’s due date was December 19 makes it that much harder as well.

We’re doing what we can to honor Luke around Christmas. He has his own stocking, knitted and gifted to us by a caring friend last year. He also has his own tree, complete with special ornaments (that we are always adding to), which was also gifted to us by a caring friend (courtesy of the Love, Leo Foundation). People remember him in cards and outreach. But most of all…everything just feels so hollow, because we just wish he was here; getting gifts and playing like the happy ~1-year old he should be.

Luke Tree
Luke’s Christmas tree (courtesy of Love, Leo)

So, amidst all the festive atmosphere of the holiday season, spare some thoughts for those you know who may have had a Blue Christmas. And, if you yourself are, know that it is ok. Not to sermonize but…you are not alone. Feeling sad around the holidays is normal. Talk about it. Ask for help. And maybe don’t feel like you have to do all the normal holiday things or put on a brave face. That family dinner? You can skip it or leave early. Loved ones will understand. And, if they don’t, it’s a good way to try to get them to open their minds and hearts to why such festivities are difficult for you.

Here’s to a new year; may 2022 be full of hope and joy. Well, if not full, then at least in ample supply.

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