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Saturday, November 19, 2016

The Grief That Stole Christmas

Well, here we are...another holiday season. These damn things just keep coming. I go through so many emotions this time of year. I'm currently pissed. And of course, we all know that anger actually comes from a place of hurt. And that it does...grief HURTS. I can't describe the pain of "preparing" for yet another holiday season without my son. He'd be six now. What should I be finding to put under the tree for a six year old? But more specifically, what would MY six year old want this year?

My job is hard right now. It's difficult to hear the excitement of families as they welcome new babies into their homes for the holiday season. It's a gift to witness it, and a pain I can't describe all at the same time. So often I turn to anger during this time of year. It's easier than breaking, because once I do there will be no going back. I have recognized that my anger/hurt/desire to not participate in life right now has been difficult on some of my co-workers. I'm sorry for that, and I wish I could handle this differently, but I can't .

I'm so UNBELIEVABLY tired of living in a world without him. I don't want to do it anymore. That statement freaks people out and usually illicits some sort of side-long, uncertain glance and complete silence. Don't mistake my pain and misery for wanting to end my life. That's not what I want. I just don't want to keep living here. There is a distinct difference between the two. And I'm almost certain that if you've experienced this kind of loss, you'll feel the same. It's not such a difficult concept, really. You know where your children are, right? You know who their friends are, where their interests lie, etc. Even if they don't live in your house, you visit them. And why? Because you miss them, but also because you want to see their living space  You want to see where they lay their head at night. That makes sense. I understand that. I just want the same thing.

The idea of stages of grief often make me laugh. The thought of having "stages" suggests a linear movement, and that just isn't the way this works. There have been times in the last year or so that I've been actually thriving despite the intense pain of grief that never leaves me. I'm grateful for those times, but they can't last forever. Lately, I am feeling the immense pull of debilitating grief. I'm so angry and so incredibly hurt that I can't concentrate on the simplest of tasks. I just can't. It doesn't matter how hard I try to push it down, it cannot be denied. I'm turning inside myself, and I can feel it. My insides hurt. My skin is all that's holding me together, and even that skin feels foreign. While I may carry on a conversation outwardly, inside I am screaming. Constantly.

I recently had a conversation with a fellow broken mother about the agony that is our existence. We were discussing the idea of "gratitude" in terms of life now. She quite correctly pointed out that people who grieve tend to feel some sort of obligation to prove gratitude despite their pain. And it's true. There seems to be some sort of unspoken rule that if we mention our pain, we must also mention our gratitude. That's exhausting. And the truth is, I know very few people who show gratitude for daily life as intensely as that of someone whose heart is irreparably broken. She is grateful. I am grateful. Every. Single. Day. But sometimes I'm also pissed. I have great difficulty with someone describing a grieving mother as someone  who is "doing really well!" It's said with such admiration and excitement sometimes that it honestly makes it difficult for me not to punch them. And it's not because I want anyone to hurt like this. I certainly do not. But, I guess I'm writing to those of us who aren't ok. I'm writing to those of us who are sometimes so angry that we feel as though we could spontaneously combust at any moment. To those whose chests burn like fire at the thought of having to hang stockings and buy gifts for a day that will forever feel empty.

The holidays are here, and so I'll die again, just like last year and much like I anticipate I will do every year until I no longer have to endure it. I ask for patience from those around me, but I definitely don't expect it. I ask for understanding but am fully aware of some people's inability to give it. I am sorry for my inability to listen to Christmas music without feeling anger. I'm sorry for my attitude that is in direct opposition to social norms during this season. But I'm mostly sorry that I have to do this again.

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