The holidays are obviously a difficult time for grieving families; I fully expect them to be so for us for decades to come. The fact that Susan loved the holidays (while I’m usually indifferent and/or cynical about them), her birthday and thanksgiving usually fall within the same week, and that the season starts on the heels of October 16th, exacerbates the challenge. Thanksgiving was by far one of the hardest days of the past few months. I am approaching this Christmas Eve and Day with much trepidation.
Last April, Susan had emailed me the link to this LA Times op-ed piece (she often sent me interesting articles by email because I am not on Facebook). I remember talking about it with her, and the two of us agreeing on how apropos it was, especially when we reflected on her time in the hospital. I think about what’s providing comfort to me these days, and I realize how much of it is just the silent acknowledgement that I am deeply grieving. In thinking again about the “Ring Theory,” I realize it must also be the “dumping out” of those on the outer rings. As much as people try to provide comfort through words and actions, it’s the quiet acceptance and acknowledgment of my grief, and my position in the inner-most ring, that helps.
My therapist has told me that right now, in the immediate months after this loss, it’s very important to let myself feel what I feel. Easier said than done; my knee-jerk reaction to feeling anything “bad” is to feel guilty about it. I’m trying to let myself feel angry, selfish, or entitled without feeling guilty about it, but it feels wrong in so many ways. Today, I am trying to let myself feel “grinch-like” about Christmas without feeling obligated to have the eye-rounding-and-face-softening-de-grinching ending.