Holidays and Grief.

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the waves of grief that often partner with holidays and special events. It’s inevitable. If you have experienced a deep and painful loss you’ve experienced or will experience the wave of grief that rolls in; sometimes softly, sometimes like a tidal wave.

My Mother transitioned in 2011 when I was pregnant with my first child. I was only a few weeks pregnant when she passed, I didn’t know I was but I’m pretty sure my Mom somehow did. I married my husband, had my daughter, moved and lost my Mother all in less than 8 months. I then dealt with my Mother’s estate, conflict with my Father, witnessing him deal with his cancer, his passing then taking care of their home, their possessions, selling their home… all within a four year period.

There was a lot of grief and trauma within a very short time, so much more than shared here but this was basically my life for a few years. It was hard, it was sad, full of anger. I thankfully have come to a place where I am healed, my heart and soul are healed. Much personal work needed to be done which allowed me to fully feel my grief for my Mother’s passing and all the trauma that happened during that time.

She and I were best friends. We clicked. We laughed, a lot. I loved making her laugh, that was a big part of my life. She was the most wise and sweet being I have ever known. I didn’t know she was wise growing up. I thought such a quiet delicate flower couldn’t possibly be wise, couldn’t possibly know the deepest secrets of the Universe but it turns out, she did.

She knew compassion. She knew forgiveness. She knew kindness. These were her core values. She lived them with every breath she took. This being her center, she shone even more brightly when her body was dying. Her body was leaving us but her soul was shining vibrantly with each passing day.

Now that my Mother has been gone for over 7 years I have finally found a rhythm to my grief. It’s almost like an old friend at this point which I am so very grateful for. But the sadness of not being able to hug her one more time is sometimes still very painful. It’s like walking outside on a crisp, cold winters morning. The sun is shining brightly, reflecting off the smooth glistening white snow. You dress up warm and snugly then open the door only to feel this intense, sharp wind that knocks you back a step.

These sharp and intense moments come up sometimes when I look at my kids and realize they’ll never get to hug my Mom, or see her beautiful smile, or hear her soft sweet voice, or get to call her Babcia to her face. These sharp moments come up when the holidays trickle near; knowing she won’t be here to celebrate with us, open gifts, have dinner, wake up Christmas morning with her beautiful grandchildren. These moments come up when her birthday comes around or the anniversary of her passing or Mothers day or my birthday or my children’s birthdays.

If you find yourself remembering just as I am I’d like to share something with you. Something I know in the deepest part of my being, my soul… your loved ones are never far. They are still with you, watching over you, loving you still. They are in a peaceful, loving place never far from the sound of your voice, the warmth of your home, the laughter you share over a birthday cake, a Christmas tree or snowball fight.

I wrote something a little while ago that I’d like to share with you here. It was a magical moment that reminded me; we are never alone.

I spoke with my Aunt today. We have long conversations every so often; she in the States, I in Canada. She’s my Mother’s triplet sister. When we hang up I often think of how similar her voice is to my Mother’s. Of course they are different people and their voices are a little different but there are some words she says or sayings she uses that sound like my Mother. After we talk I inevitably think of my Mother and how much I miss her.

Today after our chat I found myself talking to my Mom while I cleaned my husband’s office. His office was our brooder for our chicks, I owed him a big clean. He took L & O to see their grandparents today so I could have some time to do extra things I don’t always have a chance to do while with our children.

So here I find myself talking with my Mother as I clean. I tell her I miss her; I know she’s here with me, in my heart. Her energy, her spirit is with me always. I know this but still I told her, I’d love to hear her talk and I’d really love to hug her. I’d love for my kids to know her. See me with her, have her big comfy cushy hugs. How much she’d love my kids and they her. Oh man.

I chatted with my Mom for a few minutes telling her all of this then off I went downstairs to check on my chickens. It’s raining off and on today, I wanted to make sure they were safe and dry. After a nice little visit I came back upstairs to finish cleaning, I took a look at my phone to check if my husband had texted me. I opened my phone to find a song had been queued up. A song I haven’t listened to in a very very long time. I wasn’t listening to music before I left the room, I hadn’t touched my phone since my conversation with my Aunt. The song queued up to be played was Mavis Staples “You Are Not Alone”. So I listened and I cried.

Life is beyond magical. Beyond our capacity to fully grasp. It is magic. This magical gift from my Mother is not lost on me. As I wipe down this Angel statue she once had next to her bed ~ the Angel of Hope ~ the magic is not lost on me. “I want to get it through to you, you’re not alone” ~ Mavis Staples and my Mother.

I’m sending this magic out to you, to anyone and everyone who forgets: you are not alone. ~

The Angel of Hope who once sat next to my Mother’s bed.

I cared for my Mother for months before she passed. I held her beautiful hand in mine and spoke to her as she took her final breath. I sat in the room where her body lay in shock and disbelief, my life completely shattered. I watched as my Father faced his death, so very different than my Mom and sat in the room where my his body lay knowing I was now without parents. Despite these losses and friends who have since passed I am not immune to the pain of loss or the depth of which grief lives in our hearts. My best friend of 11 years, Shalva my dog, left us suddenly not long ago. I still find it hard to talk about him without tears rising. I’m ok with that because despite what we are told, grief does not take time to magically exist no more. It stays. It becomes a part of you. Not your identity but a beautifully woven thread that lives within the fabric of your life. It is part of the magic and blessing of loving and being loved.

I have some suggestions for the holidays or anytime you may feel that crisp wind of grief blow in. Talk about it. Talk about your loss, your pain. Celebrate your loved ones by sharing stories. Look at pictures. Write about them. Release the tears, release the pain. When we try to ignore our grief thinking we’re keeping the waters still for our loved ones, we aren’t. When we try to put our heads down and just get through, we hold on to our pain making it heavier to carry. When we close ourselves off from feeling because we have ideas of how long grief should take, or what grief should look like we hold ourselves hostage in the pain, never allowing ourselves to flow through the sadness. Feel it. It’s ok. It’s good. That is what healing is.

You owe no excuses for feeling your sadness. You owe no apologies for feeling your pain. You are not on a deadline. There is no finish line. Grief is a part of living when you’ve been honored the gift of love.

2 responses to “Holidays and Grief.”

  1. Hi FollowtheJoy, your article has touched me. You write sincerely, and are not afraid to express your deep pain and share it with strangers. I am also going through some terrible loss and am having a hard time with it. I have been practically paralyzed for a year through this. But how you describe your lovely mother and family situation and everything you have experienced all the while embracing the emotions is very beautiful. Keep following the Joy. You are a pleasure to read.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you so much for your kind words, I can’t tell you how much I appreciate them. Thank you.

      I am so very sorry for your loss. Take your time. Be patient with yourself… I remember the second anniversary of my mother’s passing I was overwhelmed with sadness. I was a wreck. I was seeing a therapist at the time and when she heard it had been two years she was shocked I was still sad. I never saw that therapist again. I realized that moment when she made her comment that I had every right to be sad. I had every right to still feel so deeply that at any moment if I thought of my mother I’d break down in tears. And that was absolutely ok. I knew I needed to allow myself time, kindness and grace in feeling the loss of my mother.

      Over time my grief has changed from overwhelming sadness and emptiness to feeling her presence in my life, talking about her, telling beautiful and funny stories about her to my children. Mentioning her here and there when I’m reminded of her; a flower or a song or a picture or a place.

      I wish you healing and love, grace and kindness. I’m sending you a big hug ~ something my Mother and I would always finish our telephone conversations with. 🙂


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