Coping with Grief

Christmas is going to be rough this year. With the loss of my mother on November 23, I have good days and bad days. Emmy might have said it best when she told me this morning, “Daddy is happy and Mommy is sad.” I certainly don’t think I’m sad all the time, but Emmy has seen me crying a lot, and that’s the first thing I’ve done to cope with grief:

1. Cry it out! When I hear a carol on the radio that reminds me of Mom, I let the tears roll. I’ve never been one to hold back tears, and now’s not the time to keep them in. Whether it’s a sobbing, wailing, tear-filled session which happened when I read Mom’s last emails to me, or just a couple of teardrops sliding down my cheek while singing “Away in the Manger” to the girls, I let tears flow.

2. Doing what I can. I bought Christmas candy for my Sunday school students, a birthday gift for Lily’s friend, and contributed to Lily’s preschool teachers’ gifts. My Christmas cards, however, are going to be late. I didn’t bring treats to Lily’s preschool Christmas party, or give her classmates a goody bag. I didn’t set out to intentionally do these things; in fact, I was still deluding myself the night before the party that I could run out to the store in the morning. It just didn’t happen.

3. No guilt! And so, I’m not going to feel guilty.The Christmas cards will be mailed soon. Lily’s class had plenty of cookies and candy that the parents had bought for the party, and I was not the only parent who hadn’t brought goody bags for the kids.

4. I’m not obsessing. Did you notice? My last three posts were not about grief!

5. Giving myself permission to not feel sad. I saw a Hallmark commercial last night, and it showed a grandmother receiving a card from her daughter. It was just corny enough that I didn’t want to cry, or let myself think about spending Christmas without Mom. I decided I couldn’t be sad every time someone’s mom was mentioned.

6. Letting my faith give me comfort. This is a little slow in coming. When I think about my faith, and that I believe Mom is in heaven, it doesn’t comfort me. I want her here, with me. I’m not ready for heaven to have her yet. But it’s beyond my control, and I’m struggling with the fact that Mom is truly gone. What comforts me more is knowing that in the long run, my faith will get me through this difficult time, somehow.

(Mom loved Christmas angels.)

Do you have some tips about how to cope with grief, especially during Christmas?

Christmas Lights are UP!

This weekend, we put up the Christmas tree and Ed hung our lights out on the house. We look so festive! As we were driving home from the mall tonight, Lily asked why we didn’t have as many lights up as other people did. I simply told her the truth. We’re lame.

I’m doing all right these days. Grief catches me off guard, though. Emmy is giving signs of not wanting her nap, and I almost picked up the phone to call Mom. Mom gave me a special Christmas ornament last year, which I had forgotten about until Ed handed it to me. The other night at choir rehearsal, some simple words in an Advent carol reduced me to a blubbering ball of mush. Sometimes it takes me a while to recover and stop the tears; other times I take a deep breath and continue with the task at hand.

The past couple of night, I have dreamed about Mom’s funeral. I wake up sad, but maybe these dreams are helping me to process Mom’s death. It still doesn’t seem fair. I expected Mom grow old with Dad; to help me raise my daughters; to celebrate many, many more Christmases with us. It just doesn’t seem fair.

Yet, as Dad puts it, we go on.