A million posts talk about dealing with the holidays after the loss of a child. I did one last year. It’s still good information, still as relevant today as it was then, but I’ve found I have a few more things I’d like to share.
Please talk about Jack. Don’t force it, but if you remember something, mention it. If something someone says or something a child does make you think of him, I want to know. I need to know that Jack is still here, in your hearts and minds.
There are so many things I missed in his short life that I want to hear about. If you can share one of them with me, please do.
Leave me alone. One of my primary ways of dealing with grief is solitude. On those occasions when I am sad, let me be. Don’t try to cheer me up or urge me to talk about it or bless my heart or any of the things people normally do when they are comforting someone. Just give me a look, silently, that lets me know you will be there for me when I come back.
If I leave the room, don’t follow. Give me the space I need and the comfort of knowing you will support me when I want to be supported. Sometimes, I have to stand or sit or kneel or lie on my own until I can handle life again. I’ll get up eventually.
Help me. Knowing that things will be taken care of while I grieve allows me to do just that. Worrying about any of the thousand things that go into daily life — the kids fighting or what to do for dinner or getting the house cleaned for a visit or or or — prevents me from truly letting go. It lessens, or even cuts off, the opportunity before it can mature and make a difference.
Most of the time, I power through it as best I can; when you have other kids, you often have no choice. Sometimes, though, I need to know that my friends and family have my back and I can afford the luxury of not giving a single damn about anything else besides working through my feelings for a little while. And don’t ask. In a mood like this, I probably won’t realize what needs to be done. Just find something and do it. That would mean the most.
It won’t last forever, I promise. I just need that little respite you can provide so I can lose myself in the process and not hold back the reserve that would otherwise allow me to come out of the locked bedroom and deal with the toddler’s mess or the siblings’ fight.
Read this. Grateful and Grieving
Ask me about my greatest blessing and my deepest sorrow– ask me about my child.
Remember him with me. Invite him to the table this year too. I need to know that you remember he lived. Share his stories, his memory, his life, his love. And if you’re open to blessing my aching heart even more, I invite you to say his name out loud with me. Often. And without hesitation. To hear his name is to hear the most beautiful sound there is. May it always be on the tip of your tongue like it is on mine. There is no greater gift.
Remember that for some of us the holidays can be very painful and lonely– not the season of Yuletide cheer they once were. Take a minute out of the hustle and bustle of ever-gratefulness to simply be real with me.
Know this. I am thankful every day for your support and help. I haven’t forgotten what you have already done for me. I am asking you to understand that just because it’s been almost two years since Jack died, I am not done with missing him or coming to grips with his absence.