To those who are grieving,
I want to start off by saying, I completely know how you feel. I lost my mum a few years ago and I can confirm that grief definitely is one of the most difficult things we can ever face. It’s tough all year round but at Christmas, it seems to hit you like a ton of bricks doesn’t it? All of a sudden, everyone around you seems to be laughing and smiling (even the Grinch’s!) and you feel somewhat guilty for wanting to crawl into bed and hide away from the world.
It’s supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year, and yet it feels like the complete opposite if you’re grieving. I want you to know, that it’s okay to feel this way – as heartbreaking as it is, I can assure you, it is completely normal. At first, if it’s still fresh, you probably won’t know what to do for best. You’ll probably be overthinking and asking yourself questions like – should I keep tradition the same in the hope that a routine will stop me from having a meltdown mid-way through my pigs in blankets? or do I want to cancel the whole affair and be alone? The truth is, there isn’t a right answer. You’ve got to go with whatever feels right for you.
Regardless of whether you choose to take some time for yourself, or surround yourself with loved ones, I hate to break it to you, but you will probably have a big old ugly cry at the most ridiculous of times. We tend to not have control over it and truth be told, I actually think that’s a good thing (as odd as that sounds!). Let those tears flow, it does nobody any good to bottle things up and I promise you, once you’re done blubbering, you’ll feel a little bit calmer and lighter.
I won’t sit here and tell you that the pain goes away, because it just doesn’t. There’ll always be a piece of my life missing now that my Mum’s no longer here but over time, you learn to cope. Granted, that’s not set in stone – wobbles happen and wobbles are normal. If you’re anything like me, at first you might want to take the route of avoidance, the route of hiding away and changing traditions because it’s too difficult facing the old times knowing you can’t have them back. In time, this may change. For me, I find it a little comforting now having reminders of her around the house; an example being the little robin I have perched on top of my tree. She used to stand at the kitchen window and shout me whenever she saw one sat on the tree outside and we’d both look out together at how cute it was just sat there, all peaceful. That kind of thing might not be for you, but something simple like raising a glass in their memory or lighting a candle really can bring some comfort.
Take this little letter as your reminder to practice self care, not just in the form of a bubble bath and face mask but by supporting yourself both physically and emotionally. As tough as it is, (and as easy as it’d be to ignore), it’s important to acknowledge the pain and seek support from those you trust, or those you know are in a similar situation. Grief is a complete rollercoaster and you’ll have ups and downs, good days and bad days. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself to ensure Christmas falls under the good day category as you could quite easily overwhelm yourself. My advice would be to embrace both sides as best as possible. If you’re feeling low, then take some time out for yourself, get some fresh air and take it slow. If you find yourself unexpectedly feeling joyful at Christmas then please don’t feel guilty. Your loved one would want you to be happy and to remember them with fond memories.
So from one fellow griever to another, I hope you manage to have a peaceful, self care filled Christmas and if you ever feel like talking to someone, my inbox is open and there’s also tons of amazing support on the Mind website.