This past weekend, we busted out our Christmas decorations & Christmas Spotify playlists. Naturally, Kelly Clarkson is at the top of my playlist along with Pentatonix, NSYNC, Christina Aguileara, & Mariah Carey. If you do not know my age…I think my playlist will give it away. If only they had Spice Girls Christmas carols! Okaaay, back on track. There is a line in “Have yourself a Merry little Christmas” that goes “let your heart be light”. This made me tear up the first time I heard it this season because my heart is not completely light. Some days it feels lighter than others. Some days it feels like lead. Not long after hearing that particular line Paul came into the kitchen and told me about a meeting his school counselors had with the staff. Educating the teachers to look out for children who are having a tough time this holiday season. Some of the children at his school do not get a big Christmas or one at all. They do not know if Santa will visit them whether they are good or bad. A day later I saw several posts on Facebook about suicide prevention & articles about depression this time of year. Naturally, none of this makes one’s heart feel light.
The transition from Thanksgiving to Christmas is swift. In a matter of days there have been numerous triggers for my grief. Putting up the Christmas tree without a giggling almost 8 month old nearby. Realizing I didn’t have a stocking for Cora & going to the store to pick one out for a child who will never use it. I couldn’t stand the thought of her not having her own stocking. Making my Christmas gift list that will not include gifts from Santa. Realizing my in-laws will not get to spoil their first grandchild for Christmas or my parents watching Cora open one of their special Christmas mailboxes. It’s these times that I feel robbed. It’s these times I get mad and frustrated that precious memories have been taken away from me.
It’s these moments when all the dark memories come flooding back. The moment they took Cora away for the last time. The moment I collapsed into Paul’s arms when he rushed to the doctor. After the final push during labor & I asked “she’s out?” & I knew it was over. The empty arms , the broken hearts, & the crushing disappointment. It’s not just memories, there are so many tears & a feeling that my chest is being squeezed almost to the point of not being able to breath. This is what living with grief looks like. Or at least my grief.
Why am I telling you all these sad details on my blog about living on the bright side? Because sometimes things are hard. Sometimes I struggle. I am currently still mourning my first born while trying to be healthy & stable for the baby I am growing inside of me. Something I have learned over the past 8 months…..it’s okay to have a bad day. Heck, it’s okay to have a bad week, bad month, bad however-long-you-need-it-to-be.
There are so many people who will spend their first Christmas missing someone. Or maybe their 10th Christmas but the holiday makes the feelings raw. A missing child. A missing mother or father. A missing sibling or grandparent. Or perhaps you are having fertility struggles. Or financial issues. This is not new, it happens to families every year. These problems do not go away because we’ve got pretty decorations up or a million holiday parties to attend.
So where is this bright side I’m always preaching about? Well for some people, there is not one at the moment. The hurt is too deep and the struggles too much. And that is okay. Our friends and family (or strangers!) need love and encouragement during this time. They need grace & understanding that their suffering is real and that it is not expected to go away with the holiday lights going up. They need to know it’s okay if they do not want to attend a family event or be expected to exhaust themselves. They definitely do not need our judgement or “quick fixes” that will surely make them feel better. They just need to be & to know we love them no matter where they are in their struggle.
For me, I just do things that make me happy. My schedule tonight was going to be jam packed but instead I went home & put on my favorite comfy sweats. I’ve made some yummy tea & turned on my Cowboys. I ate my dinner & impatiently waited for baby boy to start kicking the crap out me (which I treasure). I scratched my dog’s favorite spot on her back just to see her tongue flop out the side of her mouth and now my cat is snuggled up next to me. I will wait for Paul to come home to hopefully tell me his soccer team won tonight! And I may have eaten an ice cream sandwich…. 🙂
If you are struggling this holiday season, please hang in there. Please talk to those around you or a professional if you feel like you just cannot handle it. Please do not suffer in silence. You do not have to go through anything alone. I can’t promise all of your problems will go away but I do know that letting people in can help in ways you never knew.
I let these hard moments in & wait for them to pass. And they will pass. Then I savor the next moments when I can feel my heart lighten. I acknowledge the pain & confront it. I let the waves of pain wash over me so that when it stops there isn’t anything left. Nowhere to go but up :).
My heart may not be as light as it has been in previous years but I know it is strong. I know that my heart has been transformed by the pain & I love deeper and stronger because of it. And I will take that over a light heart any day.
Cheers to the bright side ❤