For many of my friends this is a “First Christmas” First Christmas without their dad, first Christmas without a significant other, first Christmas for a variety of reasons… and tonight as I am thinking of them I wanted to send a little prayer/letter out to anyone who might be experiencing their “First Christmas”
This complicates things so much. It wasn’t the plan, it wasn’t the way it was supposed to be, and yet… here we are.
You may wonder how you will get through the day, how you are ever to smile again, much less be “Merry”.
Just don’t. For one Christmas just don’t. If you don’t want to put up a tree, don’t. If you don’t want to send out Christmas cards, don’t. If you can’t bring yourself to read other people’s Christmas cards, don’t. And by all means if you want to do it all exactly the same as you always have done, do it! But, perhaps, for this Christmas, you will give yourself a pass.
Let your expectations drop, focus on the love that remains, focus on the memories, and pay attention to the pain. Don’t hide it, don’t shove it underneath a strained “Merry Christmas”, don’t drown it in too much liquor or lull it into a sugar coma with too many sweets. Your pain is inviting you to pay attention.
Your heart has been through so much, it has been torn, bruised and battered this year. It is time to rest, to repair, to heal. But in order to do that you must be willing to pay attention to the pain, which we so often avoid.
I remember sitting on the bed crying, holding my heart wondering if it was possible for my heart to literally break, it felt like there was more pain than my heart could hold. And now I know, yes, the grief manifests itself physically. But at the time, I wondered if I was going crazy. Dear one, you are not going crazy, you have loved much and this loss runs deep.
I didn’t know what I know now, that our hearts are amazing, they are far more powerful than we even realize, and sometimes when it feels like it is breaking it is breaking- breaking open to allow more room for more love, more joy, more gratitude, the the process can be painful.
You are allowed to grieve, to have your time, to have this Christmas be a jumbled mess of everything. Joy, sadness, gratitude, love and perhaps even a moment where it the grief doesn’t feel quite so heavy anymore.
To the extent that you can “don’t anticipate, participate”. Anticipating when grief will hit is like trying to catch a wave in your hand, it just doesn’t work. You will sail by moments you thought you weren’t going to make it through and then something else will hit you that you never expected.
Grief isn’t linear and can’t be treated as such, it is a wild mess of jumbled things that can’t be anticipated, but if you participate. If you allow yourself to fully feel it you will gain trust in yourself again that yes, you can ride this wave, you can do this. You may not know how, but you can.
Pick a phrase, something that will get you through, something for those moments that you need to focus. That first Christmas my mantra was from the Amy Grant song “Breath of Heaven”
Breath of heaven
Hold me together
Be forever near me
Here are a few things I know…
You will be held. In the midst of your darkest night, there will be someone, something that will remind you that you are not alone.
You will make it through this day, it may not be pretty, it may not be what you anticipated, but it will be over. Hour by hour, minute by minute, you will get through this.
You have the right to say their name, to bring up memories, and you have the right to know if that is too hard, if it is too much right now. And it may happen in the same day.
You have the right to turn down invitations, to decide what is healthiest for you, without buying into other’s expectations or guilt.
You have the right to listen to your own grief journey, to listen to your heart.
Know there are others who understand, who have been where you are…
I am waiting in a silent prayer
I am frightened by the load I bear
In a world as cold as stone,
Must I walk this path alone?
Be with me now
Breath of Heaven- Amy Grant
Know that my heart is outstretched to yours and I am holding a candle to light the darkness.
May you be held, may you be loved, may you find peace wherever you are.
With all my love,
P.S. If you liked this piece here is another post I wrote about dealing with the Holidays. The “Merry” Dilemma