Grieving is Inconvenient
Grieving is inconvenient. There is never a good time for hurt like that. Plus it often surfaces during times of celebration. When it seems everyone else is filled with cheer, your pain appears magnified, as the reflection of their joy highlights your heartache. It comes when life is too full for you to stop or it comes when you have time off to enjoy life, either way, it never seems to be a good time. Still, I've come to believe there is no way around it and the holidays have a way of bringing it to the surface. I've run away on yoga retreats, and I've stayed and faced the tradition. For me arguably the former is easier but am I willing to give into the trap of having to run every Christmas? It's not a bad idea, and I will keep it in the back of my mind for next year, but I also understand that the only way is through. Turn your face to it, and it will change. It might hurt like hell, but it will eventually change.
Holidays this year were going to be exciting. So I thought. This year is the fourth Christmas since the death of my fiance, and yet it never occurred to me that I would be grieving. I've come so far and have been doing so well. The first two years I took off, bypassed the season entirely. Last year I braved it and surrounded by wonderful people I made it through, but if I'm honest, it was an unstable time.
This year it never occurred to me that I would be reminded of how much I can hate the holidays. This year I was so looking forward to my break from school and time to relax. Then I lost my puppy. My sweet Ollie, my girl that has been my best bud for five years. When I left all I had built back home after his death and moved North to start again it was just her and I. Her and I always together. One day full of life and the next I'm forced to choose between a life of endless suffering for her or saying goodbye. I did the right thing for my girl but miss her like crazy. Her death sending me down the black hole of grieving over the holidays. Maybe this would have crept up regardless. Maybe I was naive not to remember holidays can be brutal. Maybe I don't get to just move on, no matter how hard I have worked on it, maybe there are just times when grieving, like a glass door that you never see coming, drops you to your knees.
I don't expect the pain as I used too and I am not consumed by it as I once was in the years following his death, so I can find gratitude in that. I can even make peace with the pain I still feel from time to time. Harder is getting others to understand, or more honestly being willing to talk to those I love about how much I am suffering. Mostly I just want to crawl into my bed and stay there until the new year but not let anyone down or disrupt anyone else's plans. The thing is, that's not real life. That's missing out on so much. Plus I know exposure works. There was a time getting out of bed seemed too hard, or getting on the plane alone to travel, even going back to teaching yoga, but I did them. I did what I could even when it felt like too much at the time with the hope that one day it would feel normal again and mostly I have gotten there. The more I engage with this new beautiful life I have, the better it and I are. So, I go gently. Picking and choosing when I need to rest and when I need to summon my energy and show up for life.
Anyone who grieves from lost love knows the need to soak in all the great memories with the people they still have, and yet like there is a veil between us and joy, it stays just out of reach. This cloak of sadness, anger, and pain gets in the way. We watch ourselves suffer and wish so badly it would go away. But the more I fight it, the more it takes from me. Grieving is an exhausting experience. And the harder you fight it, the more energy you lose. So I rest. I hope my loved ones can understand that this has nothing to do with them and given the chance I'd be full of festive cheer. But the reality is no that. Not this year.
To those grieving during the holidays, you are not alone. To those with loved ones grieving be kind. You do not need to understand it, thank your blessings you don't and be accommodating. They are being asked to hold a lot, traditions that were but are no more, the love for someone gone too soon, the visceral pain that comes with that, as well as the gratitude for what is now. It's a lot. They are likely trying the hardest during a very challenging time, and I cannot stress enough, if you do not know what that is like, you're fucking lucky so be patient, if they are forgetful, late, or seem difficult, believe me we know it's annoying, and we are trying. They are trying.