It's Christmas time! While most people are excited and ready to spend time with their loved ones, it is important to remember those who might be having a little harder time being in good spirits during the holidays.
I would like to share my story and why I know from first-hand experience that the holidays can bring on unwanted feelings of sadness and overwhelming emotions ... some even sneak up for years until you actually figure out what is triggering them!
I hope by sharing my story it will help others remember the importance of reaching out to loved ones who might need a little extra care this holiday season . . .
My story started in March of 2012 when my mom was diagnosed with lung cancer. She went through all the treatments of radiation and chemo for eight weeks only to find that she would have to begin going through another round . . . one she was not looking forward to. But in December she was admitted back into the hospital with fluid on her lungs causing her not to be able to breathe. They did a scope on December 24th to look around, but the doctors didn't come back to talk with my dad and mom on Christmas Day, they waited until December 26th to report the bad news that the cancer had spread throughout her body and gave her anywhere from three weeks to three months to live.
Throughout 2012, I flew back to Texas from Washington state every four to six weeks to spend time with my mom and dad. I am thankful for the many memories I made during these last months of my her life, and I know it was good for my dad that he was able to get out of the house to recharge his soul without having to worry about my mom being home alone. My mom passed away on January 3, 2013. This was one of the hardest losses I have ever had to experience.
It is important that I share when we lived in Texas that the holidays, for me, were about family. Starting with my favorite holiday, Thanksgiving, and moving through Christmas and spending her birthday with my momma . . . New Year's Day! I believe Thanksgiving was my mom's favorite too. Everyone wanted to come to my dad and mom's for Thanksgiving and they brought their own Tupperware dishes to take home leftovers. Mom was known for her turkey and dressing! We sat around for hours playing card games and board games . . . such incredible memories.
That first holiday season without my mom was a difficult one. Even though we didn't live in Texas anymore and the holiday seasons were different, the fact that my mom wasn't there for me to call anytime I wanted to was very hard to accept. It seemed that every November I would start to go into a depression. One that was so difficult to pull out of ... I moped around, I could cry on the drop of a dime, and I just had a hole in my heart that I couldn't get past. I finally put two and two together and figured out that the holidays were triggering this sadness! And I know that over time, the heartache dulled some, but just realizing what was the trigger made it easier to get through as I did several things that helped me stay positive.
As we approach this holiday season, I write this for two reasons:
1) I hope if you know of someone who lost a loved one this year you will remember to reach out to that person and check in on them. Especially with the crazy year was have had with lockdowns and isolation, I know this time will be very difficult for them and hearing from someone ... knowing someone is thinking of them will mean more than you can imagine!
2) For those who are grieving and going through your first Christmas without your loved one, I wanted to share five tips that might help you get through this tough time:
My personal note to those who are struggling this holiday season . . . I am praying for you daily and hope you know God is always there whether you feel Him or not.