“It’s the most wonderful time…of the year.” Well, not for everyone. I had always heard that the holidays weren’t happy for some people, but I thought that only applied to lonely people, you know the one’s without any family. I have a wonderful husband, 4 exceptionally precious little girls, a compassionate father, a fun loving sister, a brother and sister-in-love I’m so proud of, adorable nieces, nephews, and a huge network of extended, loving family and friends. I am not lonely by any stretch of the imagination, but I continue to struggle through the holidays since the death of my mother five years ago.
I have the honor and privilege of having nothing but fun loving memories of my mother. She smiled and laughed…a lot!!!
Sometimes I think that maybe if our relationship wasn’t so great, I wouldn’t hurt so bad, but I know that’s not the case. I know of people who had relationships with their mothers that weren’t necessarily positive, but the loss they feel still leaves an empty place in their hearts. There has to be an extreme spiritual significance of the person who gives you life.
I lost my mom to breast cancer. After being in remission for almost 5 years, the cancer returned and she succumbed to the disease 14 months after the reoccurrence. As much as the experience involved so much sadness, I cannot deny the existence of God. I had the opportunity to share my mom’s last 14 months of life with my immediate family as she lived with us in Georgia. The day that my mother passed away, she was surrounded by all her children, her best friends, and even her ex-husband! (I owe my dad’s wife many thanks for this).
As I cling to my faith as a follower of Christ, I am grateful for His faithfulness and all the private, secret prayers He has answered. I think about the tragic losses of children and parents that have been experienced by some of my friends and I know that their pain and grief is unimaginable. I think of the little girls who were in my daughter’s CLIMB (Children’s Lives Include Moments of Bravery) group and other children who will not have their mother’s at their high school graduation, wedding, or birth of their children. I had my mom for all these milestones and more, but it still feels like it wasn’t enough. I was 38 when my mom died, and she was 59. It was 2 weeks before my birthday and about 3 weeks before Thanksgiving. I have traveled for some of the Thanksgivings since her passing, I was pregnant one year, had a newborn the next, spent two with my Dad, but this year was extremely bittersweet.
This year my brother and his wife did a fabulous job hosting Thanksgiving! ODC had to work, so the Gs and I split up and rode to Delaware with my dad and my sister. My mom lived there until the second cancer diagnosis after which she came to GA. I lived in DC for about 9 years before moving to Georgia and made several trips across the Bay Bridge to see her. She worked as a CNA and constantly juggled her patients and runs to Target with me. Now that we are back in DC, the reality that she is no longer 90 miles away is sobering and going back to Delaware flooded my mind with melancholy thoughts. The house was filled with love and the laughter of children, but I still found myself fighting back tears during the day and secretly crying myself to sleep Thanksgiving night. My goodness, how can I ever pull it together to host Thanksgiving if even the sight of a can of cranberry sauce makes me tear up
I have so many wonderful memories of the holidays. I incredibly miss my grandparents and my mother, but I don’t want to remain in a place that I can’t make new memories with my family. It starts with my birthday; I fall into a funk and don’t really start feeling better until the winter is over. I don’t want to be a total Scrooge, and I want to be present for my family. As I scroll through my social media feeds and see so many happy people during this time of the year, especially the one’s with people and their mothers, I try to choose happiness, but sadness just keeps winning. I have so much to be thankful for, but my mind keeps falling back to what I’ve lost.
Memories are powerful and finding the joy in the holidays is not easy for everyone. Praying for God’s peace and love to restore my heart and the hearts of those who may be experiencing similar emotions during this time of year.
If you have struggled with grief during the holidays, what specific steps have you taken to manage it?