moving forward

navigating through the life that was and moving into the life that is

When Merry and Happy are not what this season feels like

on December 24, 2015

The world is swirling with words like joy, happy, merry and I’m having a hard time feeling any of them.

I honestly swear each year that the holiday season isn’t going to hurt as much. That it will still have all the emotions but the pain won’t be as deep. I face the season thinking my instincts will be good and I can protect myself and others from the hurt.

And then grief appears. It comes hard, it’s blinding, and impossible to ignore.

I’m trying.

Do you hear me, world? I feel so small. I’m trying.

I’ve been spending days, weeks really, telling myself, “I can do this” and “you are okay” and “just keep moving”. But I can’t. Grief is exhausting.

The fight to maintain is a struggle. So I give in. I have to. I let my body embrace the grief, or perhaps it’s more of a releasing. I weep, cry out and shake as the tears and emotions free themselves from the strings in my heart which I have wound them around so tightly. But it’s never enough. Grief sleeps in the nooks and crannies of my heart. It is a part of me now. Forever. Grieving is never over. It presents itself in the simplest ways, a look from a stranger, a card, a song, a smell. Instantly, without warning, you are detached from the moment that you are in and transported somewhere else. And wherever that somewhere is, it hurts. Memories hurt sometimes. Even the good ones.

You know that you should be happy. You know that you should be thankful. You know that you should be smiling along with your children, feeling the excitement and joy of the season. And you want to be, but your grief is so demanding of your time, your mind and your energy. It’s impossible to be present when you are grieving.

Your heart is heavy. So heavy. Still broken. It misses him. It misses the feeling of joy that used to come so easily. It wants to live “before”. Before the accident. Before the death. Before the brain injury. Before you had any idea that what used to feel like a season of joy could actually feel like a season of loss and heartache. This year, I have said more times than ever before, that I can’t wait for Christmas to be over. I just want quiet. And to be alone. Four years later, much like that first Christmas without him, I want to sit in my closet and cry into his clothes which linger with the aroma of his life. And nothing else. Just that. Fall asleep in that soft pile of his clothes, wake up and have Christmas be over.

Everything heals with time. People honestly think that is true. It is a lovely saying, but it’s a complete fallacy. Everything does not heal in time. I am not healed. I am functioning. The difference is massive. Time has allowed me to function, despite my deep wounds. I still miss everything about him. I still miss the life we had and the life we dreamed of together. I miss the sight of him walking towards me. I miss the man he was, the friend he was. I miss the way his forehead scrunched up between his eyes when he laughed hard. I miss seeing him scoop up our children like fatherhood was the job he was built for. I miss laughing with him and him giving me a hard time, the way only he could. I miss how serious he was about our SingStar competitions. I miss the way I always knew he was close by when our feet would touch under the covers at night. I miss the intentional way that he loved me. Each and every day he lived to love me. To show me how much he loved me and show me that I was all he could have ever wanted. It was the everyday things. Coffee in the morning, a new magazine by the bed on a hard day, him fixing Alana’s hurt feelings when mommy wasn’t doing it right. It’s those millions of minute details that I grieve each day as I face them alone. That is why grief never completely goes away.

When I fall this hard into grief, I need space. Space to mourn and not pretend like everything is fine.  I need to process and to feel. And I need grace. The grief does not come from an ugly place or a hurtful place, but it makes me feel ugly inside and hurt. I wish the coming out of that was easier, but it’s not. It takes more work to make it through these days then all the other days combined. I work to remind myself that grief comes from the memory of all those moments that I enjoyed. Perhaps I was not appreciating those moments as much as I should have. I don’t really know. So do me a favor, create moments for each other and appreciate those moments. The seemingly mundane ways that you share your companionship with one another. Do not overlook the handwritten note, their hand in the small of your back, a place next to someone in bed each night, the mail always being brought in or the lawn being mowed or the meal being prepared, the clean towels. Those are the moments that you may not think much of now, but they will be the memories whose beautiful simplicity you will miss the most.

So appreciate each other.  Laugh more. Love each other well. Every day. There is no better gift that I can think of than to give to others.


3 responses to “When Merry and Happy are not what this season feels like

  1. alysatorino says:

    Your words inspire me.

  2. Diane Shelton says:

    Sandra – I know you probably don’t remember me, but the Walkers were friends of ours from soccer and church. You may remember I lost my husband back in September of 2010 (don’t know whether you knew or not). This summer I lost my boyfriend of almost 4 years ago. I know that the holidays are difficult and bittersweet. Prayers to you and yours.

  3. You are an amazing woman and I admire you and what you have gone through and continue to go through. Blessings to you and your family.

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