The Joy of Grief


We all have times in our lives that are tranistional. The thing about transitions is that they are often uncomfortable, and lonely, and weird.  No one promised that life would always be easy or happy.

This Christmas is such a transition for me. Because I am not sure where life is heading yet, but I have an idea.  This is the holiday that I will experience the joy and heartache of grief. The last several holidays were spent taking care of Mom and Dad, and making sure they had everything they needed for the best holidays they could have. I have always been taking care of someone at Christmas. Or had a huge family celebration to get ready for and attend. But this year, I am not. And from now on the holidays are whatever I want them to be, with whomever I choose.

This year there will be no big fan fare, no big dinners or baking desserts. There will be no big traditions on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day. It makes sense that this would be the quiet year, the introspective holiday, the Christmas of quiet. It’s almost like having to clean your palate after one course of a nice dinner, and before the next.

At first I was terrified of this first Christmas and holiday season alone.  But now I have settled into the acceptance of it.  You cannot outrun grief, or what it brings with it.  So I will face it head on, I will embrace it, invite it in for dinner and drinks and we will have a long conversation. It will be hard this Christmas, and that is OK.  It is the exquisite pain from having loved and been loved. It means that I had my parents for 43 years. Celebrate the love that leads to the grief.

It is a bittersweet right of passage, your first holidays without both of your parents.  You are supposed to miss them, and it is not supposed to be easy.  We were not promised a life that was always easy or happy.  Life happens, and we must experience it all, the good, the bad, the sad and the happy.

And so many people want to skip this part of it, because it’s not pleasant. But it’s just part of the whole process. And if we accept the fact that new, good and wonderful things are coming, that it doesn’t get easier from here, then we must also take time for the transition of grief. It’s the other side of the same coin called life.

It seems to me that this season is the space in between the heartbeats, In Between The Raindrops, in between breaths. It is normal to miss your loved ones who are no longer here at Christmas, it is normal to experience that grief. There is a natural order in nature and this is one of them. I will never have another Christmas like this one (thank God), because after this year, life is going to explode with joy. This holiday season makes the end of an era, and emotionally the end of the grieving period. I live my life for me now.

Many memories this Christmas, as I observe this beautiful holiday.  There will be much love, and friends and faith and prayers.  I will go to Midnight Mass.  I will curl up in a wonderful warm blanket and sleep cozy underneath.  There will be joy as well, as I experience and plan for new love. I will laugh and enjoy times with friends and feel the love they send me.

So let this holiday season wash over me, all of it, all the emotion, all the stillness, sadness, and grief. Because it makes way for all of the joy and happiness and goodness.  I love life, and that means experiencing heartbreak too. You cannot get around it. So experience all of it, and live life out loud to the fullest.  That is more than just the good and wonderful, because life is multilayered and multi faceted.

I will honor my wonderful parents by letting myself feel the grief that comes with this first holiday without them and I will write about it. If you are honest in what you write, you must be willing to spill your guts with purpose. Not only to be cathartic for yourself, but for others who might be going through the same.

Grief is a not a place to live for a long time, it is a place to visit.  But to get through those visits, you must be willing to joyfully feel all the heartache of it, of this part of life. Cry when you need to cry, scream, be mad, be sad, be whatever you need to be…and then you will have that part of it out of you system. And when you go back into the world you will be lighter, happier, better for the experience.

Speak to me

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