photograph by Sara B. Healy
The Gift of Grieving
Holidays are not always happy and merry. When I was sixteen I lost my father to cancer at Christmas time. That was a difficult and painful holiday season, and it continued to be for quite a few years. This confused me because I felt I should be joyful and happy like my friends.
The holidays seemed to make my grief worse and it scared me sometimes; I wondered if I would ever recover from my father’s death. While I did recover eventually, 41 years later I still feel twinges of sadness during the holidays.
I’ve had many years to sort this out and understand these moments of sadness. I no longer fight them or pretend they don’t exist. Instead, I allow and accept them. I know they are reminders of the love I had for someone I lost.
When I was young no one explained how grief works, or that holidays like Christmas might bring back memories of that difficult time. I continued to feel like the odd person out because I wasn’t always happy during the holidays.
Today, I know there are people around the world who are experiencing a trauma during this time. Perhaps they’ve lost someone they love, an important relationship has ended, or they fear for someone who is ill. Whatever it is, this may not be an especially happy time for them. Their fear or sadness may conflict with the expectations of joy during the holidays.
I’ve been inspired to write this poem for anyone who is experiencing pain or sadness during this holiday season. I hope it reminds them to not deny or fight their feelings, but to allow them without guilt.
A Poem for the Holiday Blues
I see you. I know you are there.
You hide from the bright lights this holiday.
And the constant cheer is really hard for you to bear.
You turn away from the store man wishing all a happy holiday.
You turn off the radio because every station plays holiday music.
You turn from the jolly smiling faces as they create more dismay.
It’s not that you are a Scrooge, saying “Bah, humbug.”
It’s not that you don’t want to share the joy this time of year.
It’s not that the happy people don’t give your heartstrings a tug.
It’s just that it’s hard for you to put on a happy holiday mask.
When your sadness, loneliness and grief
Make getting out of bed a momentous task.
So, if you don’t want to celebrate the holidays like everyone else,
It’s okay. Don’t be afraid to let your feelings flow.
By acknowledging them, you allow yourself to let them go.
These holidays celebrate the birth of hope and healing.
Those of us who’ve walked your path know that this sadness
Will make way for hope if you accept what you’re feeling.
* * * * * * * * * * * * *
While I wish you all a wonderful holiday and a happy new year, I also hope you’ll keep in your heart the people who may not be having a happy holiday this year. They need your compassion and prayers. I ask you to stop, take a moment and send them your warm thoughts of hope this season.
p.s. I want to thank Davina of Shades of Crimson for encouraging me to write and share this poem. For a month, she has been sharing her beautiful, thoughtful and sometimes humorous poetry. Davina’s gift for poetry, as well as her courage and persistence, have challenged and inspired me:~)
Due to the holidays, I will not have a post this coming Monday, but do plan one for Thursday.