Monday, November 28, 2011

Hurt and the holidays

Thursday night, Thanksgiving here in the United States, a dear friend's father passed on. He had been battling cancer for quite a while. I only met this man once, at his daughter's wedding. He was so proud of her, so happy for her. I will never forget the beautiful, heartfelt toast he made to her that Winter Solstice. He praised her brains, her strength and her good heart. If it were possible to literally glow with love and pride, he would have. His daughter, my friend, was, is so lucky to have had that sort of love.

She's hurting right now, and nothing anyone says will change that.  She will, in the coming weeks, pull herself together, support her family, and learn to live with the loss.  She'll find ways to make her young daughter understand, and she'll be the rock for everyone else.  The anger and the sorrow over time will ease, but each year, she'll feel a pang during the holidays as she remembers her loss. I know, I've been there.

Thirteen years ago, my great grandmother, a fiesty, funny woman who my mother and I loved dearly, died the night before Thanksgiving. She had waited for a break in the snowstorm to die, because she was afraid to die while it was snowing. The relief, that she wasn't hurting or afraid anymore was coupled with sorrow and the uncomfortable , awkward company of friends visiting for the holiday.

Thanksgiving has been bittersweet ever since. The joy of family and friends, gratitude for our blessings and touch of sadness, remembering the loss of one so loved combine in strange ways. The ache, now, is diminished, but never forgotten.

Loss doesn't need to be through death, either.  Sometimes, families shatter and the pieces get scattered along the way.  My other holiday loss is the man I called Daddy.  He wasn't my biological father, but I loved him (and if I'm feeling particularly honest, I 'll admit that I still do, but that I am too afraid to more pain to do anything about it).  When he left my life, I was so full of anger and sorrow to try to min a relationship.  My trust had been broken, by a person I never expected to be hurt by, and I handled all of the situations arising from one moment very badly.

The days before Christmas each year reminds me of the happiness I once had with my family.  In recent years, I have begun to heal, as my husband and I have put considerable effort into creating our traditions for our family.  The holidays don't look or feel quite the same, but through embracing new traditions, we are letting the past go.

My heart goes out to this friend, who is only now preparing to start her journey towards healing. She will grieve, pick up the broken pieces of her heart, put herself back together, and one day, she'll tell her daughter, an infant now who will not remember any of this, the story of her grandfather. All I can do for my friend right now, is to be there when the burden of being strong for everyone else is too much, to remind her that she isn't alone and to listen when she needs to talk.

For everyone who knows the sadness of having lost a loved one during the holidays season, you are not alone.  Light a candle, set at the table for your loved one, or simply talk about them.  It will ease the pain and remind you why you loved that person so much.
Holidays can be a time of incredible stress, remember to take some time for yourself.  Acknowledge your feelings and look for something beautiful in the season to hold onto.  Healing takes time.



  1. Beautiful post. It is so sad when we lose someone we love. I have lost my mother and my sister within a month of each other. They did not die but they have chosen to live lives of deceit and hatefulness that I couldn't allow to slip into my life or my children's. I do miss the people they could have been, and I light a candle for their hearts and souls every chance I get. Hugs to you and your friend.

  2. Thank you, Sandi. I'm sorry to hear about your mother and sister, but we do what we have to keep ourselves and our children free from hurt. Blessings!

  3. My deepest condolences to your friend and her family. I wish there was more I could say or do to ease your pain and her' heart is with you both.

  4. Thanks, Delphi. I'm learning that mine is easing each year, as I get better at embracing the now. She's just beginning the journey and the hard part is knowing that is a long one. You've got a beatiful heart and I'm so glad you share it with us.


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