The Christmas holidays can be one of the starkest reminders of the reality that our loved ones are no longer with us.
Brendon’s birthday is on the 29th December, and for many years after his death, it wasn’t a time of year I looked forward to. I was trying to engage and enjoy Christmas day when the massive void of his presence was definitely felt, deep in my heart and soul.
They say time heals all wounds, and I feel as I have grown and changed that I have found ways that help me not only survive but thrive, and thus gave myself the tools to make it through, particularly on special occasions.
After the loss of a loved one, things are not the same, and will never be the same again. How can we be the same after these traumatic experiences? It is like putting on prescription glasses after struggling to see for years or decades.
Yes, we will feel sad, we will wish they were there, but that doesn’t mean that we won’t make it through; we can.
1. A few years ago, it was the day after an anniversary of Brendon’s passing, and it hit me like a ton of bricks that I had forgotten his anniversary the day before (I was caught up in trying to survive other not so nice things happening in my life) the wave of guilt that I am a bad person hit me. We are human. And there is absolutely nothing that says we have to keep dying or reliving the pain each time an anniversary, birthday, or similar event comes around.
2. Letting go of any guilt that we are still alive and that we are here living and enjoying life.
3. For many years on Brendon’s birthday, I would always try to do something he liked or that he would do on his birthday. Slowly I started to see, that wasn’t me living; that was me desperately trying to keep him alive. Now on his birthday, I think about what I like or enjoy and treat myself to that. This year, I have booked myself in to have my nails done. My feelings of happiness and gratefulness feel like a far better way to honour him on his birthday than trying to live his life.
4. There is absolutely nothing wrong if you need time out, even on Christmas day. For me, being around everyone, either all wallowing in pain and misery or pretending to put on a brave face, sometimes it was all just too much. I just needed time away from all the “noise” to just centre and calm myself and to actually make sense of what my feelings were, and not those of everyone else’s around me.
5. Allow yourself to feel, think, etc. whatever comes up on the day WITHOUT judgement; it’s normal and it is okay. Trying to suppress it may feel okay for a little bit, but that pressure cooker will explode at some point.
6. Be kind to yourself and know your limits. Allow yourself a day in bed eating chocolate if that is what you need, but be honest with yourself when it starts to become an excuse.
My hope for you reading this blog is that you will find some peace and ease during the festive season, and that even though you may be sad / miss your loved one that it is okay for you to celebrate and be grateful. Enjoy the gift of life.
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