This year in particular I’ve found the whole event excruciating. Usually, despite my lack of Christmas Spirit, I can find moments of joy and appreciation for the holiday season. This year I can honestly say that if Christmas was canceled I wouldn’t have been sad. I can relate closely to the Dr. Seuss character, Grinch. Also, just like Grinch I’ve contemplated why and come to the conclusion that my hatred for Christmas isn’t about the celebrations, but my own sadness and anxiety. There are reasons for both.
I lost my beloved Grandfather in July. He was and still is the most important and influential male role model in my life. I inherited from him my dark sense of humor, my inability to hide my true feelings because my face says it all, and the necessity to always overdress for every occasion. His love and understanding of the ways of nature permeated throughout our family as did his wonderful storytelling and singing voice. He worked as a forester and fisherman all his life. He planted the trees in the woods where I grew up and played in for hours. The priest quoted this verse of a poem by Robert Frost written in 1922 during his eulogy:
Without him around now, our extended family has grown silent. Because of him, the trauma my particular branch of the family suffered was bearable. Now it’s not, because his twinkling eyes and brazen smile are not there to drown out the pain.
We also lost my father-in-law in September. It was sudden and unexpected. He left in the ambulance lucid and smiling. We expected him home a few days later having recovered from breathing difficulties. Instead, we were left trying to come to terms with the fact he was never coming home again, and reeling in yet more grief. My husband is still in shock and it doesn’t feel real for him yet. His Father was an exceptional man. He had 9 brothers and sisters and he was the glue that kept them all together. Everyone turned to him for calm assurance, he provided silent, but solid support for everyone that mattered to him. I had the honour of writing his eulogy, the most important use of my skills so far.
Forced to find gratitude
Because that’s what we do in recovery right? Thankfully I know about gratitude. If I didn’t the unending pain of loss may be too much. Many things I’ve learned in recovery have helped me get through this Christmas. Being grateful for the joy these important men brought me and the eternal memories is a start. There are many memories that make me smile and giggle when I think of both of them. Gratitude for my belief in an afterlife and unending energy brings me some comfort. Being present and responsible and participating in both funerals as the eldest grandchild and daughter-in-law to two exceptional men was a moment of pride for me.
Nothing in life turns out as expected. I’m grateful to be able to have this platform that enables me to bleed and heal and I know I’m not alone in that sentiment.
Thank you for letting me share.