Fancy Holiday Grief
CW: Homicide, trauma, grief, ptsd
I am a long-time griever. My mom was murdered in 2006 when I was 18 years old. I witnessed her being attacked. Over the last 16 years I have learned how to walk with my grief and become its friend, but it has many layers, and it’s a sneaky little bastard. That’s why I like to blog about it so much. I want to encourage others and help them not feel so alone, but it also helps me process the many feelings and layers. You’re all helping me by holding little pieces of my grief and her memory.
I always say that grief doesn’t get easier, but it gets different.
When the holidays roll around I call it “Fancy Holiday Grief.”
Each year as I change and grow I find new ways to relate to her and to miss her. I’m used to her not being around after this long, but the holidays really throw it in my face that she should be here. I think of the empty chair at the table for Thanksgiving that she could be sitting in. I feel the emptiness inside of myself, and sometimes am taken back to the night it all happened. I start to think about how unfair it is that someone took her life and I get angry. Sad, angry, empty, and so many tears. My tears feel hot and my throat tightens up.
I am embarrassed of myself at these moments. I am a broken record. I want to be over it, although I know that does not exist. I don’t want to let it affect me so much, 16 years later. I don’t want to be taken back to the 18 year old victim that I was, but I don’t feel like the 35 year old version of myself that I am supposed to be, either.
Not easier, but different.
If you would have told the 18 year old me that I would one day live life with joy again, or even that I’d be able to sleep, I would have never believed you. I wish I could hug that 18 year old and tell her to hold on. Just keep swimming.
But the only way out of the fancy holiday grief is through it. So I reluctantly allow myself the time to cry and feel all of these feelings. I sit and write about it. I listen to songs that I used to hear in the backseat of my mom’s car and remember the certain way she used to hold the steering wheel and sing loudly. I remember her hands, how they were exactly like mine, and how she had to wear gloves in her casket because of her defensive wounds. Robbing me of the goodbye I wanted. Robbed of so much. I let myself feel sorry for myself and what I’ve endured. I let my imagination wander to what it would be like if she were here, all the things we could be doing together, the relationship we could have.
And most importantly I try to honor her with how I live my life. She would be proud of me that I’ve come so far. I don’t lie in bed and wish God would take me anymore, in fact, it’s quite the opposite. I pray for safety and a long life because I’m having fun here, and my work is not done.
I hold space for both things. Joy and sadness. Life and death. And in sharing, I hope I help others to do the same. 🌹
For those experiencing fancy (hellish) holiday grief, hold on! Just keep swimming. The water will be calm again sometime soon.
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