Grieving During the Holidays

Gargou and I

No sooner had I penned my cheerful blog on “Why I Love the Holidays” than my mother died. Overnight I became one of the myriad of folks experiencing acute grief during the holidays. Suddenly, all that “fa-la-la-la-la” Christmas music was grating instead of delightful.

I know I should have been relieved at my mom’s passing, and in many ways, I am. She was 98, and the memory loss that had first become apparent more than a decade ago had only progressed (as dementia does) in one direction. Surely my smart, funny, endlessly energetic mom would not have wanted to live like this. And anyway, hadn’t I been grieving for years as less and less of the person she’d been was present in any meaningful sense?

And yet, I feel profoundly sad and disoriented. My mom spent her last years living near our extended Boston family, hundreds of miles away. I flew to Boston several times a year to visit and called her every afternoon. Even now, I find myself reflexively looking at my watch after lunch and thinking it’s time to call—until I remember there’ll be no one to answer.

In time, my grief will subside, and I’ll be able to focus on remembering all the special times my sons and I shared with my mom. But right now, the sadness weighs heavily, compounded by also losing my husband’s mom and his beloved grandmother in the last five months.

I keep reminding myself that loss and death are inevitable. None of us gets out of here alive. But when grief is so fresh, so present, emotion reigns over rationality.

I just have to allow myself to be sad.

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