Coming together for the holidays can be a particularly stressful time for anyone. That’s always made me sad. A couple of years ago, I promised myself to never “survive” another holiday again. That I would take in each moment; soaking it in bit by bit, relishing in the littleness of my babies and having as much fun as possible without running ourselves to the point of exhaustion.
Last year between Thanksgiving and Christmas I was just entering my second trimester of pregnancy with our 4th baby. Nausea and first-trimester exhaustion were just letting up, and the renewed energy was a blessing as we attended several holiday events in our area. My heart was full. I was content.
Fast forward one year and we are now grieving the loss of two children.
I feel similarly exhausted as I did just one year ago, but this time from the ache of missing our baby boys. I go over and over with my therapist at how much we have lost and how bad it hurts.
And you know one thing that keeps coming up?
Despite the overwhelming exhaustion, I am grateful. Grateful for my two children here on earth that I get to mother. Grateful for the healthy relationship with my husband that we had to fight for. Grateful for all the cooking, the baking, the decorating, and the joy that comes with this season.
Unfortunately, gratitude has also been something that I’ve also had to fight for– and THAT is something that really bothers me.
The politics, the picking at each other, the negativity…my goodness, people. Stop.
Is it worth it?
I find many times that in the middle of conversations anymore (and for a while now), it quickly gets political. It quickly gets heated.
Related: Self Care: Surviving the Holidays
And while you are all worked up about something that may or may not affect you in the slightest…I am worked up about something that did affect me. That affects me every single day. I’m missing my sweet baby boys, but I am trying to hold on to shreds of hope. Shards of joy. Bits of gratitude.
Sly comments, lack of empathy, and discouraging conversation about “how awful it is to live in the world today” ….it doesn’t help anyone, but it’s particularly unhelpful within loss community. While you look with disdain on this world, while you use up all your energy fighting with family- I’m scrounging for peace. I’m fighting for faith. I’m battling for positivity.
When you talk to me over the holidays, I will make every effort to shift the conversation to something joyful. Not because I don’t care about what happens in the world.
Not because I don’t have opinions, because believe me, I do.
I’ll shift the conversation because I’m trying to thrive in a season that reminds me each and every moment that my two perfect boys are dead. That two of the stockings hung on our stairs will never be filled. That “Santa” will only ever leave presents for half of our children.
That for the rest of my life, half of the seats at my kitchen table will be empty.
If you’re interacting with me or with anyone grieving during this season, I encourage you to be gentle. Keep the conversation light. Work on bringing a smile to my face. Mention the names of my children and how you miss them too.
Because this, more than any political or negative conversation, is what I need more than anything. As I fight each day to see the joy, to count my blessings, to be grateful, I would love it if you would join me. Grief can be a very lonely place, but it’s unfortunate that as of late I feel lonely in my joy. I feel isolated in my optimism. I feel naïve in my thankfulness.
Tis’ the season.
Please help me in finding joy. I will be so grateful when you do.
Photo by Sweta Meininger on Unsplash