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