The holidays are time spent with family. That seems to be the whole point. You get together with all your extended family that you never see. On Thanksgiving you are thankful for them. Over the other holidays you celebrate, you love on them, you spend quality time with them. The holidays are all about family. But, when one of your loved ones isn’t there to celebrate with you, the whole idea of the holidays doesn’t seem like much fun anymore.
For me, Thanksgiving is my least favorite holiday. My mother passed in 2013, the day after Thanksgiving. Thanksgiving day was the last day I ever saw her. It was the last day I ever hugged her. It was the last day I ever heard her say that she loved me. It was her last day. Now on Thanksgiving I feel her absence more than any other day of the year. The day that I am supposed to be thankful for my family, I want to lay in my bed and do absolutely nothing.
Then, Christmas comes. In 2013 I celebrated my first Christmas without my mom only 22 days after her funeral. I had to return the gifts I had already gotten her. My sister and I had to sort through the gifts she had bought for other people. That was the worst Christmas I have ever had. This holiday that I looked forward to celebrating every year suddenly felt empty. Something big was missing—someone big was missing. Last year was a little easier. Last year we had more time to prepare for our new Christmas. But, it was still hard. This year, Christmas is approaching quickly. I feel differently about it this year. I feel joyful about Christmas. But, that in no way means that it will be easy. I will still wake up in a house that is not my mom’s. I will still be missing her presence while we cook breakfast and open gifts. I will still be missing someone big.
During the holidays you are going to need people more than ever. It’s completely okay to admit that you are hurting and having a hard time. One day close to Thanksgiving I woke up and texted my friend and said, “I don’t want to do it today. I don’t even want to get out of bed.” Later he gave me a hug and kissed my head and that’s what I needed to get through my day. I needed someone to know I was having a bad day. I needed someone to talk it through with.
Lean on those that love you. If there is anything that I have learned since my mother has died it is that your true friends will always be there for you when you need them. If you are having a rough day then talk to someone about it, or write about it, or listen to music. Do the thing that helps you the most. It’s okay to admit that you are not okay. It’s okay to say that you need help. The holidays are not easy, and that’s okay. You have to give yourself room to breathe. Even after the third, or fourth, or twentieth year without a loved one, you will still be grieving their loss around those special, family-filled, holidays. The holidays are hard. You don’t have to pretend otherwise.