Seems a few people I know are experiencing grief in a big way this season, it’s the first holiday after the death of their loved one. I wish there was some way for me to bear it for them, because it really is so hard. The world is happy, full of mirth, joy, and thanksgiving. People are down right jolly. When the one you love isn’t here, the contrasting darkness of your life feels so bleak, and almost shameful. People still ask “Are you having a good Christmas?” “Has Santa been good to you?” “Did you get what you want this year?” And the answer to all these questions is no. Yes, even in sadness and in the mist of grief there are moments of light and joy, but they are breaks in the darkness, not lasting light. A good Christmas would be with all those we love, that they would be alive, and celebrating with us. That first Christmas after death can be downright awkward. Stuff your feelings, pretend to be happy, so you don’t bring others down. Perhaps what those of us who can feel the joy in the season should be doing is lifting others up, not in a “Come onnn, cheer up!!” sort of way, but in an understanding ” I know this must be hard for you, but I love you” sort of way
This is our fifth Christmas without Katie, and still it’s hard. Yesterday she was on my mind in a big way. It’s not the same debilitating I can’t get off the couch, or why don’t we have more Kleenex sort of day anymore. Having other kids now helps tremendously, they make you find joy. But there was an emptiness in our house yesterday that doesn’t usually permeate the forefront of my thought. I think knowing that the Christmas service in Edmonton for parents who have lost a baby was yesterday, didn’t help. I had hoped that in being close I would make it there this year. It really is a nice way to remember, how much is lost to some parents each year. Kyle has been witting his exam, counseling students, and attending meetings about some ridiculous work bureaucracy, plus we had just made a trip to Edmonton last week, and therefore we just couldn’t swing it.
Witnessing, or knowing about new grief among my friends this season is hard. It gets better, but constantly being told that that future is what we should hold on to, sucks, because the right now is miserable. I think you have a right to be miserable if you need to, a big hole has been ripped open in your life, and pretending it’s not there does nothing to help repair it. I wish I could find the quote, but I once read a quote that said essentially this. God could mend your heart quickly with large lose stitches, but it would just tear open again, so instead He works slowly with small tight stitches, it hurts more and takes longer, but when He is finished it is lasting work. You’ll always bear a scar, but your heart will hold love, hope and joy again.
So my friends, Lauren and Rob, Janine, and Jenn, and those of you who have lost someone you love this year, go ahead and have a hard Christmas, be lonely for the ones you love, cherish the breaks of light and feel joy where you can, but be true to how you feel, so that your stitches may be lasting too. This scared heart is praying for you, and perhaps part of Katie’s legacy is understanding that sometimes you just need to grieve.