If you’ve suffered the loss of a loved one, then you probably know that grief has this way of sneaking in on special occasions and sucking some of the cheer out of your celebration.
No matter how you much you try to avoid or deny it and just when you think you’ve put it behind you and moved on with your life, grief reappears and apprises you that you’re not allowed to have too merry of a Christmas or too happy of a New Year.
Grief is a hard taskmaster and becomes your constant companion, always nagging, constantly reminding you not to be too happy lest you forget the one you’ve lost. Especially on happy occasions, especially on holidays, birthdays, anniversaries.
And don’t think it’s just the grown-ups that grief taps on the shoulder. The children have been talking about Nanna and asking questions about death and dying lately. It’s hard for me to tell exactly how they’re feeling because they haven’t learned the words to express it, but there must be something about the Christmas season that sparks their little memories as well.
In any event, for me the Christmas holidays this year haven’t been as difficult so far as last year or the year before. Now, it seems that grief has become more like a distraction than a depression.
Recently, I was feeling a little blue and I remembered this song I really like from the soundtrack of the movie, The Help. I thought about the lyrics to the song and realized that in some strange way they described how I was feeling that day–sort of down yet sort of hopeful:
I have never considered myself to have the character traits or the parenting skills or whatever other personal qualities it takes to be a single parent. And, I have great respect and admiration for those who are single parents, regardless of the circumstances that got them there.
And, I never, never, never would have thought I could raise children, these very young children, alone without my wife, Diane, our Mom, our Nanna. Undoubtedly, others, both family and friends, thought the same thing when we first started on this new adventure.
“He surely can’t do this by himself!”
And justifiably so. After all, they were my friends and my family and they were concerned about me and concerned about the children.
But, I’ve made it this far and the children seem to be thriving:
There’s a lot of nurturing that I won’t ever be able to provide the children like Nanna could. But, I still feel a little like the song says: “I’m the living proof.” I’m proof that with God’s help, and the help and prayers of friends and family, I’ve been enabled to form us into a family, to make a home, and hopefully provide a happy life for the children:
I know the children feel like we’re a family. I know they feel like this is their home. And, I know they feel safe and secure and loved. They are the living proof that we are finding our way through this new adventure.
Now, you may think that either I’m feeling sorry for myself again or else I’m giving myself too much credit.
Perhaps both. Maybe I’m simultaneously pathetic and conceited. Maybe I’m conceited because I’m so pathetic. Or pathetic because I’m so conceited!
Nevertheless, I did have another purpose in mind for this post.
Certainly there are other people who have suffered far more tragic circumstances than I have, whose loss is greater, whose pain is more severe. The unexpected death of a loved one is physically, emotionally and psychologically painful. And, it takes time to learn how to smile again.
But, you can be happy again and even appreciate the suffering you endured to rediscover the joy of life. And when you learn how to be happy again, you will have learned real happiness and you will have learned to better understand the pain of others.
So, that’s the point of the song and, hopefully, this post (and this blog, for that matter). Maybe sharing my sorrow and the new adventure that’s bringing me so much joy can help someone else get through their darkness and back to the light.
If even I can do it, then you can too!
(Play the music video to fully appreciate the song and its lyrics.)