Based on my experience I think it’s fair to say that grief … mourning the passing of a loved one affects people in very different ways. But at least for me … and I’m willing to bet for most … the grief, the pain … comes in “waves”. And depending on the point in time, the circumstances … the waves vary in frequency and intensity. I knew with the holidays upon on us that we’d have to deal with some pretty intense waves. But even knowing it … you don’t know exactly when they’ll hit or how intense they’ll be. Sometimes it hits and it’s just a shake of the head and a curse to yourself, i.e. WTF; sometimes it’s a deluge of tears and you can barely catch your breath.
On Thanksgiving eve I shared with my FB friends that … for most of my life the “Holiday” season has always been something that I really looked forward to. I say most because there are two times in my life when that hasn’t been the case … 1994, the year that Mom passed away and this year with the passing of my bride, Lynn. When Mom was alive and for the majority of my life up until that time, my parents’ house was the center of gravity for Thanksgiving and Christmas. At the time of my Mom’s passing my oldest son was just 16 months and my youngest wasn’t born until 3 years later. But with the start of our own family, things started to evolve and we began to develop our own traditions and routines around the holidays. So eventually, the “Holiday” season … even though it would intensify how much I missed Mom … once again started to become a time of the year that I really looked forward to … and it’s been like that for the last 20+ years. As you can imagine … it’s so tough going through the holidays without your partner of the last 30+ years, my/our wonderful Lynn. I miss the way she’d decorated the house; I miss the smell of her fantastic cooking; and so many other things. But most of all, with the break from work, I just miss the extra time that I got to relax and spend time with her. So yeah, it’s tough, it sucks … and it’ll never be the same. But I know without all of the love and support that my boys and I have received from family and friends over the last several months … it would be so much worse. So yeah it sucks really bad right now … but I’m thankful … thankful for so many things.
So, Thanksgiving was quite the emotional rollercoaster. First it was a big break from the tradition that we as a family had established over the last 20+ years. Fortunately, my youngest son and I were able to spend the better part of the day with two of my best friends, Dave and Lisa, and their family. I’ve known them for 30 years and they are really like family (and the good part of family that you enjoy spending time with if you know what I mean). Lisa put out quite the spread and created an incredible atmosphere. We talked, laughed, drank, ate… and we cried. And as mentioned earlier … the waves can be unpredictable and intense … and they were. They hit a number of times over the course of the day and the tears just flowed for my son and me. But we weren’t alone … we were surrounded by love … great friends … family. So yeah, a change in tradition … but at least for this year … it just felt right to do something different and not try to duplicate the past.
As we continue on with this next phase of our lives … this new “normal” without Lynn … we’ll continue to face new “firsts”. And not just the firsts that we were blessed to share so many times in the past with Lynn … but also the “firsts” to come. Whether it be Thanksgiving, Christmas, an anniversary, a birthday, a family vacation … or a wedding, a grandchild … it’ll be hard. There will always be mixed emotions … but I’m sure that someday the joy of the occasion combined with the wonderful memories of our sweet Lynn will outweigh the grief … and hopefully the waves won’t be so severe.
For those of you that struggle with depression, I just want to leave you with one last thought. And I apologize in advance for this coming off as naive … but maybe it’s worth a shot if it resonates with just one person. I’ve shared previously that in one part of Lynn’s final note she wrote “Please be happy, that is all I ever wanted for all of you”. That statement represents the ultimate irony … for those of us that were close to her, she was a key element to our happiness. Losing someone you love, you cherish, you count on is devastating and, quite frankly, destructive. We are not better off without you … no matter your struggles … no way, not even close. I can only imagine what it must be like to be in that “dark” place … where you think the only way out is to leave this world. But for what it’s worth, if it’s possible … try to remember what I said above … we’re not better off without you … it’s so much worse! So reach out, seek help (National Suicide Prevention Lifeline > 1-800-273-8255) … hold on … you’re so loved!
Be blessed this holiday season and embrace your time with family and friends.