As a child, thoughts of the Holidays were filled with happiness, and family and gift giving and gift getting, and sugarplum fairies. No matter what was going on in my life, the Holidays were something I looked forward to & memories that I cherished. It was one of the few times out of the year that I felt whole, I was surrounded by people I loved and who loved me. We were such a big family. Each one of us kids gathered around the tree piled with presents. Each one of us staking a claim on our designated spot on the sofas and ready to load up our bags. It was an interesting tradition to say the least, but I remember it not because of the gifts that I ripped open but because of the unity I felt with my cousins and sister & brother as we bonded, and joked, and fought over spots. I will cherish those memories forever.
But as I got older, tragedy began to strike and the reality of the Holidays became something totally different. Grief is not something that you usually hear people talking about when you talk about the Holidays. But for so many of us, it is the reality that we have come to cope with over the years. This blog is usually centered around suicide,prevention and mental illness..But, grief is something I feel at the core is universal despite the situations surrounding the circumstances of loss, whether we are prepared for it or not. I know that there are many people out there trying to make sense of it all. Trying to find a way to say goodbye and move on without forgetting and without feeling like they are losing a part of themselves or the person they have lost.
Five years ago, for the first time I lost someone so close in my life that it wrecked me to my core, as well as most of my other family members. For one whole year we did not celebrate holidays, we did not want to forget the memory of my Grandfather, and we felt we shouldn’t celebrate anything because he was now gone. We let the memory of the cancer and the loss replace what should have been a time for the family to stitch up our wounds of grief, but instead they grew, and we have never been the same as a family. Slowly we started drifting, slowly traditions began changing, and not only because we had gotten older but because bonds had been broken or challenged and things would never be the same. I would give anything to have a real family Christmas again, but the reality is that I may never see that happen again…
This year at the start of the Holiday Season we lost another close family member, another victim taken too soon by cancer. And again life has stopped; Christmas will not be celebrated in my family. I understand the grief I feel the pain and my heart hurts more than you can ever know. But I WANT to celebrate Christmas, because I know that’s what He would have wanted. He wanted His family to be together at Christmas, he wanted the kids to know that we will stick together and love on one another no matter what is going on around us. He wanted everyone to be happy, because that would have made him happy. And it hurts my heart to know that we won’t have that.
But even though I grieve…I believe Life moves on. It has to. I can’t stay in this place mentally and expect to stay healthy. Does it hurt? Yes. . Do i continue to hold a place in my heart for those I have lost over the years and treasure the memories I was able to make? Yes.
My prayer today is for all the grieving hearts out there, for those who do not know how to move forward with out their loved ones, whether it is 5 years, 1 year or just a few weeks since they have left this earth. I pray that you find the peace and beauty in this Holiday season that will give you the strength to get through the days. I pray that you find comfort that your loved one has finally found peace from whatever affliction they were suffering through. I pray that you find Hope in the fact that though we said goodbye here on Earth we will all be united one day in Heaven. I pray that you will continue to remember their lives, but not allow your own life to stop, because they would want us to keep their memory alive in happiness not in grief. I pray that each and everyone of you find comfort in the fact that YOU are NOT alone, there are other hurting hearts out there who have loved and lost and are trying to find their footing through the Holiday seasons as well.
And I know there are others out there who are struggling to be able to enjoy time with family because it is just too hard. The depression is too strong, the heartache feels unbearable, and the thought of a new year does not bring happiness but sorrow. I know because I have been there. I have enjoyed Christmas on cloud nine, only to find myself at the lowest of lows on New years eve. All dressed up, hiding alone in a room, crying, bleeding and not knowing how to face the trials of the New Year. But I have come a long way from that broken girl. I have been made whole. This is my prayer for you:
I pray that you let love in. I pray that this Holiday season you know that You are Loved, by your family, by your friends, and by God above. Earthly love may fail us, and break us..but HIS love never fails. Let yourself drown in it, and He will give you peace and strength. I pray that you find the courage to not only face tomorrow…but the year ahead as well. I pray that you truly believe me when I say..IT DOES GET BETTER. You will come out on the other side of your struggle and you will be a better person for all that you have gone through. I pray that you trust in God and believe that this pain is but for a season, and if you let God into your heart, he can fulfill the purpose for it. We are not meant to suffer in vain. Everything happens for a reason, we just have to open up our hearts to that plan in our lives, and slowly our hearts will be comforted, our wounds:mental,emotional, &physical will begin to heal. and one day we will look back on it all, and see that we are whole. I pray that for each and every one of you reading this today.