HEY, BABY GIRL! SO LET ME HEAR YOUR PLANS FOR CHRISTMAS. ARE WE GOING TO PLAY THAT DIRTY SANTA GAME AGAIN? THAT WAS SO FUN. I CAN’T WAIT.
I can literally hear his voice saying this to me. I can mimic every inflection, every held syllable, his Southern drawl, and even his joyful tone. I can still hear his voice in my head, yet it still seems so surreal that I can’t hear his voice with my own ears again. I lost my father suddenly on August 28, 2018. Not even a full 3 months ago. And the tears won’t stop. The. Tears. Will. Not. Stop.
I struggled during the Thanksgiving holiday. I really struggled. I didn’t want to cook. I didn’t want a lot of family over. I didn’t want to celebrate Thanksgiving…period. I was moody in the days that led to Thanksgiving, and I knew why: what was there to celebrate when I didn’t have my Dad? I just wanted to do the bare minimum. But I still had kids, a husband, and other family members that were happy to celebrate Thanksgiving. I was just sad and disappointed; the holiday was just another reminder that my Dad was gone. So I ran in the Turkey Trot Race that morning, then relaxed with my mom, brothers, uncle, husband, and kids. And I cried. I cried a lot.
Even after Thanksgiving passed, there was still a void. Usually, immediately after Thanksgiving, he would pepper me with a stream of questions about Christmas. It was his favorite holiday. (Minus the cold weather. The cold weather always caused his knees and hands to ache.) “Do you want me to fry a turkey again? What should I buy the grandkids for Christmas? What is your mother buying the grandkids for Christmas? What are you getting the King (his nickname for my husband) for Christmas? Have you decided what you want for Christmas? Let’s do trivia again this year. Who else will be joining us this year? What traditional desserts will you make this year? Just make sure you make a sweet potato pie, okay Baby Girl?” Those are just a few of the questions that I will never have the opportunity to answer.
I’m going to approach Christmas a little differently than I approached Thanksgiving. This Christmas, I’m going to cherish all things Dad. I’m not going to pretend that I don’t miss him. If I cry, I will cry with family. I will continue to remember, and use, the many life lesson he taught me. I will pass these lessons down to my children. I will tell stories about his life. He will forever live on through the words we share.
But there are some things that other people can do to make these “Grieving Holidays” a little less blue. First, don’t ever tell someone who is grieving that, “He’s in a better place now,” or “God must have needed a new angel.” That implies that one should be happy their loved one is gone. Which, in my opinion, is extremely insensitive and ridiculous.
Be sure to be understanding. If a grieving loved one is feeling and looking blue, don’t tell them, “Cheer up, it’s Christmas!” I’m sure they know what holiday it is, but unfortunately, one cannot schedule when they will or won’t grieve. Just listen and be present for them.
And lastly, allow the grieving person to grieve. However long it takes, whatever their grieving process may look like, give them the time and the space to work through their sorrow.