Thursday, December 11, 2008

Today is December 11, 2008, and it snowed here in Louisiana. Now, if you're familiar with the south, you know it is not often it snows down here. As a matter of fact, the last time we saw snow in southern Louisiana was December 25, 2004.
As I stood in the doorway and watched the beautiful white fluffy powder cascade gently from the sky, I felt a bit of melancholy, a bit of sadness too. While the snow itself was beautiful, it felt dark and dreary, damp at the same time. Maybe it was the dampness that clouded my mood. I also remembered that the Christmas holiday is fast approaching, and I remembered that although this may be a happy time for many, it is also a sad and depressing time for many. Some may blame it on the economy, while others may have other hardships that they're facing, i.e., the loss of a loved one, relationship issues, loneliness, etc.
Whatever it is that has you in the mental state you're in (sadness, depression, loneliness) I'd like to share this piece I wrote a few years ago to accompany my book, When Death Comes a Knockin' (a self-help, inspirational book about loss and grief, ISBN: 1-4116-2470-X) titled Dealing With Loss Through the Holidays.
Dealing With Loss through the Holidays

With the holidays approaching and the memories of my departed love ones never far from my thoughts, I reflect back to that first holiday season immediately following the losses of my mother and son, and remember how I dreaded the holidays as they neared.

My mother died in August and my son in September of 1994, so the first holiday without them was Thanksgiving. Prior to 1994, as a family tradition, we spend every Thanksgiving holiday, matter of fact now that I think about it, every holiday at my mother’s house. Because of that, I had no idea of what we would do now that she was gone.

As the holiday drew nearer I began to experience feelings of panic, of insecurity and fear, feelings that seemed to intensity daily. I began to wonder if I would be able to endure the pain of facing the holidays without my love ones as I was certain the pain I felt from those losses would surely increase because my love one(s) were not here to share the holiday with.

The feelings of fear, pain and insecurity began to interfere with my daily thinking process and before long I was not able to focus on one thing for any length of time. This meant that some things either went undone, they weren’t done correctly, or if they were, it took longer for me to complete them.

When Thanksgiving Day finally arrived, I opened my eyes and realized that all of the fears and insecurities that I’d experienced had already reached their peak. I discovered that I was no more fearful or felt any more pain than I’d felt the days, weeks and months preceding the holiday. I realized that all of these feelings were because of my anticipation of facing the holidays without my love ones.

I realized that everyday, whether it was a holiday or not, the pain was no more or no less than what it had already been since losing my loved one(s) holiday. I also realized I’d been living every day without my love ones since their deaths and since I had already survived those days, weeks and months, I knew I would survive Thanksgiving too.

With that realization, the feelings of fear and insecurity didn’t overcome me as the Christmas holiday neared and so too I survived Christmas as well. I’m certainly not saying that I wasn’t sad or I didn’t miss my love ones. I assure you I did. But the anticipation of the holiday didn’t add to the pain of my losses. The pain’s was already there and to some degree, I believe it will always be there.

After surviving my first holiday season without my love ones, I haven’t experienced the type of fear or anxiety over an approaching holiday, birthday, or other special day that I shared with my love ones. I have accepted the fact that my loved ones aren’t with us physically. But it doesn’t mean they can’t be with us spiritually.

I’ve learned that once I accepted that fact I can now face anything that life throws my way. But I did not get to this process of acceptance overnight. It took months of attending Grief counseling in a group setting where I learned the process of grief, and prayer.

I’ve learned to rely on my faith in God. I realize that with God’s help, I could make it through anything, to include the loss of my parents, a child and other special people that impacted my life.

Through my faith in God and in my quest for understanding His word, I feel that God was not responsible for the death of my love ones as God is the giver of life. In John 10:10, He states, “The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly,” so He is the one who could help me to get through the loss of my loved ones.

I credit my faith in God for being where I am today in the grief process. I truly believe I wouldn’t have been able to accept (the final stage in the grief process) the loss of my loved ones .

When I am weak and feel that the pain is too much to bear when I think of my loved ones not being here, I turn to God and ask Him for strength and courage to make it through any moment of weakness or sadness.

It is only with the passage of time that will lessen the pain associated with the loss of a love one. There’s so much truth to the saying, “Time heals all wounds.”

If you have suffered the loss of a loved one and a holiday or other special day is approaching and you feel you cannot cope, I urge you to seek some type of grief counseling. Talking with others who have gone through or are going through what you going through can help you make it through the this most difficult time.

Eventually you will be able to face any day, even the holidays knowing that your loved ones are not very far from you. Once you do, you will be able to accept what has happened. You’ll eventually realize that as long as you live with the love of your loved one(s) in your heart, they will always be with you and will live through you.


shelia said...

Vanessa, I was surprised to hear about the snow down there. We were supposed to get it, but it passed us by and headed further down

Like you, my faith in God, gets me through the holidays; especially when I think about how my family will no longer be the same because of those that have passed away.

One thing my mom taught me to do when I start getting depressed too is to re-focus on the good things going on in my life. Faith in God and focusing and appreciating "the now" helps get me over the holiday blues :)

Vanessa A. Johnson said...

Thanks for stopping by, Shelia. Appreciate it. Happy Holidays to you and yours.

Tina said...

Thanks for sharing this boo. I know it helps a lot of folks. Myself included.