When Christmas is Dark and Filled with Death

This is the first Christmas after my Dad’s death and the first one without any parent. I am numb and just trying to get through the holiday. Hopefully in San Francisco we will find some time to play tourist and not think about death. Though I suspect that will be hard.

“Grief is like the ocean; it comes on waves ebbing and flowing. Sometimes the water is calm, and sometimes it is overwhelming. All we can do is learn to swim.”

Vicki Harrison

“It’s so much darker when a light goes out than it would have been if it had never shone.”

John Steinbeck

“When someone you love dies, and you’re not expecting it, you don’t lose her all at once; you lose her in pieces over a long time — the way the mail stops coming, and her scent fades from the pillows and even from the clothes in her closet and drawers. Gradually, you accumulate the parts of her that are gone. Just when the day comes — when there’s a particular missing part that overwhelms you with the feeling that she’s gone, forever — there comes another day, and another specifically missing part.”

John Irving

Mom and Dad

For most people Christmas is a time of life, joy, celebration and happiness. I have experienced those in the past. However, this Christmas is different. This holiday is cloaked in death, loss, mourning and shock. I am trying to come around to the thought that I have lost both parents. That they are both gone. That saddens me deeply and it still feels like a dream in many ways. I have been amazed at the kindness by many but even in that there is sorrow. The other day one of my parents friends invited me and my sister over for dinner. It was nice with an amazing meal of ham, scalped potatoes, and Jell-O. As I sat at the table the napkin reminded me of the ones Mom used at Christmas years ago. I went into the bathroom and cried. Who could have thought that seeing a napkin could be emotionally draining and provoke such a response?

We are a little over a month after the anniversary of Dad’s death. Going into Christmas is hard. The memories, the loss and the pain are what I am feeling right now. Instead of a normal holiday I feel a holiday with loss. The two most important people in my life are not involved in it anymore. How could that possibly be? When I was speaking to a grief counselor she spent time sharing that 43 is young to lose both parents so soon. Its also rare according to what she said. That is another aspect that I am still figuring out.

So this holiday we’re going to be in San Francisco. We will see some museums, go to the Palace of Fine Arts and play tourist. For me it will be hard to get through all this. I am dealing with Mom’s death and now its complicated by Dad’s loss as well. I feel like a ship that lost a rudder. So this holiday is not about celebrating for me. Instead its about getting through. Trying to get through all the pain and come out on the other end. Perhaps in time the pain will lesson. That is what the grief counselor is telling me. Will that happen in 2019, 2020 or 2021? I have no idea. But this holiday is not a time for celebrating. Its a time for mourning. Hopefully next year’s Christmas will be different. I will have to wait and see. This is a dark and painful journey.

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