Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Oh hey grief! So nice of you to visit.

I haven't written about grief in awhile. Don't misunderstand, I still feel grief, but I've not had much to say that seemed original, interesting, or necessary. The loss exists inside of me now as one of many emotional notes, not the driving one, most of the time anyway. In general when I feel that deep longing and loss I take a few deep breaths and remind myself to be grateful for the pain. It will pass soon enough. I might take a walk, talk to Kevin in the aether, and keep myself moving along.

Then my birthday rolled around, followed quickly by Thanksgiving and BAM! here I am, back in the land of the lost. Hi grief, how nice to see you. Pardon me while I wail for a bit.

I've written before about surviving the holidays, and that this time of year can be very difficult for those of us struggling with loss. There are such strong cultural and personal associations with Thanksgiving and Christmas (regardless of religion) that this season can be quite triggering. I'm finding it that way now, even as I approach my fourth Christmas without Kevin, even as I am living with my new love and building new traditions with him, even as I have learned to breath into the void.

Sometimes when grief visits, it helps to remember the sweetness and not just the sorrow, even though it makes me sad.

Kevin and I celebrated our first Christmas together with home baked bread and an open house for our entire community. The next year we did the same thing, only to lose power in the midst of celebrations because of a significant snowfall. We lit candles and the house was warm and bright with love and companionship. I remember how incredibly happy we were. We had a new tradition and one that we knew we would do for the rest of our lives.

And so we did, for the rest of his life anyway. I haven't had a Christmas open house since he died and I doubt that I will again. New traditions are rising up, but it's not the same. It can't be.

I miss him. I miss his excitement over Christmas (both the celebration and the religious aspect); I miss strategizing with him about gifts; I miss his dense, heavy bread; I miss how everyone would glow in the light he reflected. With Kevin I was almost able to believe in Santa Claus again.

Some people seem to think that because I have a new love I don't still miss Kevin, that one has replaced the other. That's nonsense. Our hearts are capable of enormous amounts of love, so having a new love doesn't mean the old one is forgotten or dissipates. It doesn't mean I won't miss him, won't hunger for what was even as I feast on what is.

I don't yet know what the holidays with C will bring this year, but I know they will include love and laughter and their own kind of light. They will also include tears because missing Kevin, feeling grief, is just part of who I am now.

It doesn't matter how new or old the loss is. When we love we run the risk of loss; grief is a part of what it means to be alive. The grief remains and visits at the most inconvenient times (I sometimes think of it as my own personal vacuum cleaner salesman knocking on the door. "Hey, let me just dump this dirt in the middle of your life.") but the love endures. Sometimes the visitation from grief just makes that love more robust and vibrant in the moment. Sometimes it just hurts. And neither the grief nor the love will be any less than a part of who I am.

(c)2017 Laura S. Packer Creative Commons License

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True Stories, Honest Lies by Laura S. Packer is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 United States License.
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