This is the first holiday season that I can remember since Bob died. Last year I was in shock and I have absolutely no memories of the holidays. I thought I was going to be better this year. Honestly, I am worse. I am more sad, more angry, more lonely and more hurt than I was last year. I never thought I would ever wish for shock but there are definitely days that I miss not feeling anything. Or, rather, not being able to remember that I can feel anything.
This is also the first year without my family. We have always had a toxic relationship. I tried for 40 years to make it work. Then my husband died and my family just couldn’t stop making it about themselves long enough to support me through the worst days of my life. One thing that becoming a widow has taught me well is that life is much too short to spend around people who make you feel like you are hard to love. It is also too short to spend around people who love you only when conditions are right. I realized that applies to family, too.
So, I am lonely. I feel lost. I don’t have my husband or my family. I have no traditions and no reason to celebrate. I used to love to cook holiday meals for my family and now I don’t have a family to cook for. I feel like I don’t have a place. I don’t have a tribe. Everyone else has their families. I am always the odd one out. I feel like Im intruding. I don’t really belong anywhere.
Im sure my friends would tell me that isn’t true. They would say that they love me and that I am always welcome to spend the holidays with them. A few of them have said that to me. But that doesn’t change that I don’t really feel like I belong. Who doesn’t want to have and spend time with their own family who loves them during the holidays?
It’s hard to be festive when you are depressed and grieving. It is hard to watch everyone with their families. Then there are the terrible holiday commercials where husbands and wives are loving each other. I get to go visit my husbands headstone. I don’t need to be reminded that I don’t have love like that anymore. It is a hard time of year for the lonely and brokenhearted.
I try to be positive. I really do. I do my best to focus on the things I am grateful for. There are times when life is just hard and things just hurt and you need to acknowledge that. I need to be able to stop and allow myself to feel what I feel. I make no apologies for being honest about the struggle. Life isn’t always pretty and neat. In fact, it is pretty constantly messy these days.
I am grateful for what I have. I am very fortunate. I have a home that is warm and comfortable and it is mine. I have a nice vehicle that I enjoy driving. I have absolutely everything I need. I have health insurance. I am relatively healthy. I have some wonderful friends. I have freedom that most people dream about. I don’t take any of it for granted. Ever.
I am also a suicide widow. I also still bleed freely from the wounds his death inflicted on me. I hurt and I get depressed and I get anxious. I get insecure and feel like no one loves me. I don’t have a family. My life is still in a state of chaos because I lost my husband. I still have a lot of really hard days. I am still trying to pull my way out of the abyss.
The holidays are proving to be harder than I expected. I will make it through this just like I have made it through everything else but that doesn’t mean it is easy. I need to take the time to say that out loud. I need to acknowledge my pain. That’s how I work through it.
If you are having a hard time this holiday season, you are not alone. It is okay to tell the people around you that you are struggling. It is okay to say no to activities or parties if it feels too overwhelming. It is alright if you are grieving or hurting and need to make yourself a priority. The holidays are hard. They are extra hard for some of us. Be gentle with yourself.