Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Looking ahead and not prepared

Today Gannet Girl wrote about trying to plan for the holidays after a loss. Unlike her, I haven't done any reading on grief. I tried but wasn't able. I've known the holidays were approaching, but my mind has really blocked it out. I've heard friends talk about planning their holiday parties. I've seen the decorations go up. The advertisements are inescapable. Somehow though, it all feels as if it has no relation to me. Holidays exist in a different realm than my life. Oh, I tried with Halloween. I had candy and my witch hat at the ready and didn't have a single trick or treater. I also didn't have that sense of the lowering of the veil that I've often had around All Hallow's Eve and All Saints Day. It just slid past me.

Now, Thanksgiving is fast approaching. The womanchild told me that she's going to friend's family celebration in Kentucky. It's too much for her to be around here, and I told her that I understood. I didn't want us both sitting in this house that is now so uncomfortable, feeling sad, lonely and depressed. I'd much rather she have some fun and (my evil side speaking here) obtain some amusement and perspective from another family's holiday family gathering.

That still leaves the question of what I'll do with myself. I know that the holiday itself will feel very real on the day itself, and I'm just going to have to wrangle an invitation from a friend to avoid a big crash and burn. That idea just feels so pathetic though.

The holidays were always a sticky issue between the husband and me. I like to do them up big with all the decorations, and he hated doing that stuff. He enjoyed it if I did all the work, but it always felt like such a sham not doing it together, and the end result usually felt like a shabby failure. My daughter's favorite holiday memories involve being at the homes of friends and family. Though my mourning has changed and is not as acute as it was, this is a large barely scabbed over wound that's going to be opened no matter what I do.

One of the difficult things about my grief has been that during my husband's last couple of years, we were deeply torn between an intense love for each other, the kind I still don't understand, and a mountain of frustrations, disappointments and hurts. When someone dies, it's easier to remember only the good things, and I hope that will come in time. That's been an unaffordable luxury for me now though. Guilt and anger and loss have all competed for primacy in my emotional landscape, and it's been a hard, bloody, ongoing battle with no clear victor. I've tried to avoid a lot of this by going numb. I guess it's been a form of emotional shock, but it's felt like the safest choice.

I'm not depressed writing this. I just know that I've got a big hurt lurking in the near future, and it's time to brace myself for it. I've said before that Lamaze is the most useful thing I've ever learned, and I think it's time to apply those principles to this emotional hurt. Relax as much as I can, don't try to fight or avoid the pain, just experience it, release it, visualize something better and keep on breathing.

It's not much of a plan, but it is a start.

mourning and the holidays


Blogger Lisa :-] said...

We lost my Mom last December 3rd. So last year wasn't much of a holiday season for us. It remains to be seen what our dwindling family is going to be able to put together this year...

If only you weren't so far away! I'd be happy to have you join us for T'giving... Our family is getting smaller and smaller. It would be nice to start adding friends to the celebration, but all my friends live...everywhere but here!

The thing about numbness is that it is sometimes the best defense mechanism. Your psyche uses it when it just can't deal with an issue head on. As you get some distance, you'll be able to confront some of that stuff...a little while from now, when it doesn't hurt quite so much...

November 19, 2008 11:42 PM  
Blogger Sarah S-D said...

wanna come to nashville? our table is pretty full already, but we can make room for you!!! twill be my husband and me, my sister, my seminary roommate and her husband, and their absolutely adorable 4 year old son. not a huge gathering, but it should be a joyous one... and you'd be welcome. haven't checked this with my hubby, nor my guests, but... i'm sure you would be.

course, you'd probably rather spend the day with someone you know well. i'd understand... totally.

i don't think i have practiced my breathing enough for the birth that is coming. perhaps you and i could practice together.

blessings as you navigate what will come.

November 20, 2008 4:51 AM  
Blogger IndigoSunMoon said...

Have you spoken to a grief counselor? Sometimes sitting in a room with another person, who has nothing to gain from your openness is the biggest help in the world.
The holidays are the worst when you are still grieving.
Know that I care my friend,

November 20, 2008 10:38 AM  
Blogger Nelle said...

Last year was our first Thanksgiving without my sister-in-law, Jen. We were so concerned for her nine year old daughter. Usually my m i l had the meal in her home. We invited them here so everything about the holiday was different and they felt it made it much easier for them. In grieving I think the grief comes in waves, some are small and easy to ride out while others are tidal waves that hit us and leave us shaken to the core. Would love to have you join us as well. Perhaps next year you and the womanchild can start some new hoiday traditions.

November 20, 2008 7:06 PM  
Blogger Songbird said...

Sometimes the person who hosts us needed the guest as much as we needed to be included. (((Cynthia)))

November 21, 2008 8:12 AM  
Blogger Chris said...

So you're going to have a little schadenfreude for Thanksgiving, huh?:)

I think that your writing these thoughts out has got to be helpful in the healing process.

November 21, 2008 9:12 AM  
Blogger amy said...

Cyn, I know it's going to be hard...My best advice would be to pamper yourself...comfort foods, bath stuff, a great book,( or several), candles, chocolate, maybe some Bailey's...Wish I lived closer...((((Cynthia))))

November 21, 2008 10:46 AM  
Blogger cw2smom said...

Hi Cynthia! I don't know that I've commented yet, since I found you once again! I am so very sorry for your loss and I experience so much of those feelings, still. It's loss after loss, after loss. Wishing you peace and a holiday that works for you at this difficult time! Love, and Hugs, Lisa/CW2smom

(my word verficiation-greve!) Wow!

November 21, 2008 2:56 PM  
Blogger Theresa Williams said...

The holidays are such a hard time to have to deal with loss. I'm thinkin of you, Cyn. All of us go through it at one time or another.(((Cyn)))

November 21, 2008 11:52 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

There is no right or really good way to get through a holiday after the loss of a loved one. Some things we or I have done to that might do well for you are 1) Go to a celebration at a home where you have always felt extremely welcomed and loved. 2.) Do something totally unusual, like nothing you ever did before, for the holiday. 3.) Though it sounds sad, sometimes I think the soul heals when we coccoon ourselves for the day and allow ourselves the luxury of wallowing in our misery.

Just know that whatever the day holds for you dear, My prayers are with you.

November 22, 2008 4:11 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

I've nominated you for an award. :o)

November 22, 2008 9:27 PM  
Blogger Lynne said...

Hi Cynthia, Found your blog by way of Barbara whom nominated you for the MARIE ANTOINETTE award. Congratulations!

I read your entry and tears came to my eyes. I think it is a start in a direction you must go. My heart goes out to you even though we are strangers. If you decide not to participate with another family - maybe you could go volunteer in your community to help others. Keeping busy helps to get thru the rough patches such as holidays. God Bless and gentle hugs!

November 23, 2008 7:57 AM  
Blogger Sarah S-D said...

came here to cheer you on for getting back on track on your weight loss journey. once this baby gets here, and i get through the first few months (i think), i'll be joining you.

i've really gotten lax about what i eat as this pregnancy has progressed.

anyhow, that post was in my feeds, but disappeared, so... commenting here.

do you have plans for thursday? you're still welcome here.

November 23, 2008 8:21 AM  

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