Holidays can be very difficult because they remind us of who is gone but not forgotten. When I worked at a substance abuse treatment facility, I learned about how difficult family celebration days can be for many people. At that point in my life, I had yet to experience great loss, and it was astounding to me how many people were absolutely dreading the approaching holiday. We had clients in crisis left and right, and I learned to be thankful that I simply looked forward to my family gatherings.
Now I am part of the other group: the people who have lost loved ones and struggle to cope when holidays approach. It is a unique perspective because the shadow of death hovers continuously within my periphery, and although this creates moments of despair, it also illuminates my depth of gratitude. I have more appreciation for life because death has struck my family, plucking a beloved family member from our grasp.
Each holiday holds this shadow that darkens some of our moments and brightens others. My children’s smiles seem a little sweeter, their eyes a little more wonderful, and their hugs a little warmer. Although I am their mother, I am often the one who finds great comfort in their love. They say a mother’s love is unconditional, but so is the child’s.
Sometimes when my children look at me, it erases all of my doubts and fears and insecurities. They look at me with such adoration and inspiration and trust that I have no choice but to find validity in their unspoken declaration of love. I must be doing something right if my children look at me the way they do. It feels incredibly undeserved, but I’m learning to accept that I might be more worthy than I think I am.
Spending time with my children helps alleviate some of the pain of missing my sister when holidays arise. What helps you?
If you’re struggling with the loss of a loved one with Mother’s Day coming up, you may also want to check out my article in Charisma Magazine. It gives more insight into my process of coping with my sister’s passing. I hope you can find some peace within the heartache too.