The Holiday Season. I’m not sure there could be more angst packed into three simple words. This is such a tough thing to navigate after the loss of a child. Here before you is a world full of song and cheer and snowflakes and Santa. Radio and television are constant reminders of how everyone is focused on love and family and children. But the fact is, you are missing one. You are broken. And you are not quite sure how you are going to get through this most sacred of childhood traditions.
One woman I met said she refused to put up a tree or decorations or any reminder of the holiday so she wouldn’t ever have to experience it without her son. For seven years she did this. Another woman I know booked a trip to the Caribbean and told me she was going to pretend it was just like any other time of the year and that Christmas never happened. My story isn’t much different. That first year felt surreal. I was six months into my grieving, and I was determined to keep things normal for my son, Logan. We had spent the afternoon carting crate upon crate of Christmas decorations down from the attic and per usual, it was my job to get everything out and looking festive. I was standing at the island, sorting through I don’t even remember what, when the next song ‘Alexa’ put on was “Where are you Christmas” from How The Grinch Stole Christmas movie. That little girl’s voice singing those heartfelt lyrics “Why can’t I find you? Why have you gone away? ” hit me like a smack in the face and I dropped to my knees and sobbed. I knew right then, I couldn’t do it. I couldn’t be in our house, in front of a tree filled with his little boy decorations, and all those memories. My God, the memories were EVERYWHERE.
So, I called my mom, or my sister, somebody, and I told them we were coming to Canada. It was fine. We all went through the motions and before you knew it my first Christmas without Luke was behind me.
The moral of the story is this: what a grieving parent does every day is a hard. What a grieving parent does to get through the holidays is an act of strength like no other. No matter how you choose to get from December 1st to December 31st know that it is right for your journey. No one is judging. Travel, escape, pretend everything is okay, cry all 31 days. Whatever works. Just know you can do this. Take one day at a time. And I am here if you need me.