To those that are grieving this holiday season,
I’m thinking about you right now. I want you to know that I am with you in spirit as you navigate this difficult time of the holidays. I get it. I get your pain. Of course your heart is feeling black and constricted, you have suffered a devastating wound. Maybe it’s the loss of your marriage, or the loss of a parent. Maybe your partner died. Maybe your child. Or maybe you are estranged from your family. Maybe you have no family. Whatever the reason, I know that feeling well, the feeling of a black and constricted heart, and how it feels when that very real reality collides with what’s going on around us this time of year.
Cars are driving by with Christmas trees tied to their tops. Christmas lights are up. Holiday jingles are playing everywhere, it seems. Everyone else is looking forward to the holidays, it seems, looking forward to this joyful season, looking forward with delight and anticipation. Maybe you feel like you just don’t belong to this world of family togetherness and happiness. You feel like you just don’t belong, and you’re better off on your own, isolating in your room, in your bed. Maybe you feel like your ground has been yanked from under you and you are feeling a feeling of disequilibrium so excruciating that you don’t know how to get through each hour, much less each day. You’re grieving, I know. You’re grieving and grief is heavy and it is difficult and it is dark and it is isolating.*
Grief can make us feel so alone, I know. I have a feeling that you are feeling very alone right now. No one can share your grief with you. Many might see your grief and withdraw because they don’t know what to do. And you might be pushing others away since there’s no way they can share it with you. They might mean so well and you get that they mean well but no one can share it with you. And you don’t know how to do this, how to navigate this time, a time when you used to be joyful and innocent and look forward so much to this time of year, but you just cannot do it now and you truly doubt you can do it ever again.
You don’t quite know what to do and how to do it and the pain is heavy and at times it is absolutely excruciating. If your partner left you and you see happy couples, your black heart grows even heavier. if you lost a parent or partner and you see your friends with theirs, your loneliness is overwhelming. If you are estranged from your family and you see happy families, your pain is like a knife. And if you lost a child, perhaps that is the worst pain of all. And of course children are everywhere this time of year. Your heart constricts and tears might come as you see what could be your own child still living, happy, laughing.
I want you to know that I am with you. I may not know your specific pain but I certainly do know pain. I lost my parents and I lost my husband and I almost lost my sanity. Loss is hard. Loss is heavy. Loss is dark.
But here is what I want you to know. You will not be here at this exact spot in a month, six months, a year. The heart does heal. It heals, it does. A scar remains but the heart does heal. It heals because that is what our body does, it heals. It may seem excruciatingly slow but one day, perhaps next month, perhaps next year, perhaps in five, you will raise your eyes and see the new moon. You will raise your eyes and smell the night air, wherever you are, as if for the first time. You will laugh aloud and wonder at this joyful sound coming out of your body, a joyful sound where before there was only darkness. You will. It may not seem possible now for you, at this difficult time, but you will.
The holidays will pass. Time will go on. The new moon will rise and with it your laughter. The new moon will be reflected in your eyes as you gaze upon it with delight even as you carry sadness in your heart. This tension may become your new touchstone.
To all those who grieve this holiday season, I send peace. May peace come to you and envelop your heart. I send compassion, that you have compassion for yourself in this time of loss. And I send trust that the new moon will rise and be reflected in your eyes. Look, it is rising now.
*If your grief is so overwhelming that you can’t function, please reach out for help. The Crisis Line is staffed 24/7 and can be reached by dialing (866) 427-4747. Individual therapists in your area who specialize in grief can be found on Psychology Today