My Take on Holiday Sadness
A huge hurt builds inside me. My father died on Christmas Day 1986. It is a familiar, old hurt. This past year freshly layered that hurt with new hurts and loss. All four of my brothers have passed on. One in 1998, another in 2005. Mom died in 2007. Then I quickly lost my last two brothers in the Autumn of 2014 and the Summer of 2015. My remaining sisters-in-law passed on in the past year. The last biological relative of the generation beyond me, my father’s youngest sister, died in March.
No one tells you that the odds of ending up alone, as the remaining person in your family of birth, are fairly high, if you were the youngest person in your family. It can really suck to be the youngest sibling in a family. It does suck to have your dad die on Christmas Day.
Death is playing on my mind differently this year. Someone I once loved died a year ago today. Just before Christmas. I did not know that the person I lived with for 13 years, spanning my 20s, my youth, died, apparently unexpectedly, last year just past mid December. Some of my friends knew and did not tell me Our ever-so-long-ago break-up did not go well, so to speak, and I was dead to him after 1988. I respected his wishes and never contacted him. The weird thing is that he stopped interacting with anyone who knew me too. That hurt a lot of people who had considered him a close friend.
Those same friends who he wrote off due to their connection to me, chose to keep me unaware of his passing until after my daughter’s wedding just the day after Christmas. That was quite considerate actually. Old friends who came to the wedding celebrated only the couple, and talk of mortality was to be found anywhere.
I have my dear Hubster, and a wonderful daughter and son-in-law. I have an amazing and talented step-daughter, her husband and their twin seven-year-old daughters. I am not alone. There is much sweetness surrounding my bittersweet memories of Christmases Past.
I am just 60. My mother lived to be 92. I could live for a long time as the only one who remembers my childhood family holidays. Childhood memories of fall and winter get-togethers become cloudy through time. There is no one left to shine sunlight through the clouds on old stories, desserts, family jokes, no one to laugh with about family eccentricities. I can tell the stories to my children and grandchildren, and I do.
But there is just no way around it. Losing a loved one is sad.
Actions That May Help Make Christmas – a Little – Better
Holidays can be very, very tough. I know I’m not the only one who feels this. But there are a host of other ways to redirect my attention, remember fondly, and create new memories.
Some of the things I do that seem to help when I’m feeling down:
- Be kind.
- Ask people how they are doing.
- Give hugs.
- Take it easy, don’t do more than you want to or can do.
- Allow yourself a good cry, don’t cut it short.
- Then dust yourself off and do something to make someone else happy.
- Find an activity that brings you cheer.
- Allow the cheer of others to creep into you.
We can learn to have a sadness and to be happy at the same time. Life is bittersweet for those blessed with long lives.
Merry Christmas, or happy whatever you may celebrate!
An earlier version of this post was published Dec. 2015