Without a doubt, this was one of the worst Christmases that I had. It wasn’t because of anyone, no event, nor was it because I was not without a place to go and presents under the tree. It was because it was the first without my mother.
I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about the grieving and mourning process. Holiday time is the worst time for grieving. It is a time to be happy, yet you are clouded with memories with your deceased, which turns a good occasion into a painful one.
This Christmas, I kept busy. I spent it with family and I made the effort to show up for them. However, I know many people who are grieving that are choosing to spend the holidays away from people — which is something that I can see.
Honestly, I wish that there was more understanding about grief and how everyone grieves. Some people want to spend their holidays with their loved ones, and that’s truly great. Others would rather be alone. Both are okay.
Have you ever had someone try to just belittle you for grieving? For instance, if you express repeatedly that it’s something that you may not want to do or are uncomfortable doing, only to be greeted with a well, we still want to see you, or don’t you want to spend it with family.
Sure, it’s nice to be invited somewhere. That is something that is so awesome. But, I hate that people put pressure on those who are grieving to attend and be okay. Newsflash: it won’t ever be the same for them again. And, they may fall apart. In my case, it’s because my mother passed away practically overnight. In others, it’s saying goodbye to a sibling or a spouse. Whatever the case may be, it’s a process. Everyone grieves differently. Sometimes, it’s just giving yourself the space to grieve.
And, you have to be okay with that.
I spent the holidays with people, and I will say this: it is pretty hard to try to be happy. When I’m with people, I constantly feel a pressure to put on a smile and be sociable even though it was killing me to do so. Sure, this is strength. And, I know that if I chose to spend the holiday in my bed, it still wouldn’t change the fact that my mother is deceased. I know my mom wouldn’t want me in bed, but that’s where I wanted to be.
However, I want to keep it real here. No one should ever critique someone for simply trying to do what’s best for them. No one should call them selfish by trying to put their needs first. No one should try to make them do something they are not ready to do. It’s self care, damn it. And, it’s definitely not selfish.
I’m not trying to say that you are not being helpful. But, I wish that we can change the dialogue that we have with each other to be more focused on the individual’s needs and to let the grieving just be.
So, if you know someone who is grieving, here’s a tip: try to be more understanding. Listen to their needs. Sure, it’s awkward for you, but they are trying to be honest — which is a hard thing to do. What you can do in return is try to meet them in the middle.