It’s that time of year. Everyone shines a little brighter, everything shimmers a little more. The cooler temps create a cozy atmosphere inside bringing family and friends together.
For many, this time of year is both magical and lonely. Both bright and dim. Both cozy and uncomfortable. Grief has a way of sneaking up on you like that. It finds you where you are and sits with you.
This is the reality for those who have lost a loved one. There are many adjectives to describe loss. It affects everyone differently but there is one word we can all agree on: hard. Grief is hard. Loss is hard. Losing a loved one is hard.
It is said that time heals these wounds. I would argue that time does not heal. In fact, in some cases, it makes it harder.
You see, the loss of a loved one is a constant.
It’s the most dependable aspect of your life that you wish wasn’t. Every time you celebrate a new milestone in life, embark on a new adventure, enjoy another holiday, you are reminded of their absence. There is an empty chair at the table, a missing pair of shoes at the front door, one fewer person to buy for. And while we are surrounded by loved ones, somehow, that amplifies the absence of the one we lost.
I lost both of my parents unexpectedly at the ripe young ages of 19 and 23. Since then, I have graduated from college and become a wife and mother to three beautiful children. I’ve celebrated countless birthdays, holidays, highs, and lows without them.
You’d think by this point, I’d be entering the phase where time is supposed to start healing these wounds, yet I find myself struggling. I used to wonder if something was wrong with me. Perhaps I hadn’t worked through all my grief? Maybe there was still more for me to process?
Although time hasn’t healed my grief, it has gifted me with insight.
I don’t think loss is something to be completely healed. I don’t think it is a chapter that has a definitive beginning and end. I think it is ever evolving just as our lives are. In each new chapter of our lives, we adapt to the loss of our loved ones in new ways. We edit that chapter to fit our reality.
So, for those of us who have lost loved ones, no matter what chapter you are in, you have a community of people who are also on the same one. Let the memories of your loved one sit with you during the holidays this season and know they can still be a part of your chapter, even if they aren’t here anymore.