I have already received a few Christmas cards, started shopping, and play my Christmas CDs at home. I am getting into the Holiday Spirit.
Saturday after doing some holiday oriented activities with my daughter and grandson, my husband and I relaxed with a glass of wine. No TV, no outside distractions, just sat enjoying each other’s company and talking.
Rachel of course was one of the topics. Both of us still find it hard to believe that this will be our 4th Christmas without her. We talked about everything that people did for us, who was there for us, and even those we expected but never showed.
Funny how four years later you still very much remember the people who came to support us, but more so, those who didn’t show up or call. We talked about who made a point of seeing Rachel in the hospital and who didn’t, and so on. Please do not misunderstand, we are not bitter or angry at anyone, we were just surprised by it all.
As we talked, we also discussed all that we have learned in these past four years. We realized that even though we felt their absence, we have gained awareness that not everyone can handle certain situations. We have come to understand that even though they were not physically present to us during a difficult time they held us in their thoughts and prayers.
With this in mind, I look back over the last four years, and I realize that I too, was not always able to visit someone in the hospital, attend a funeral, or call someone in need. It was just too difficult in the first year or so, it hurt too much. I have gotten much better at making an appearance. My personal experience helped me acknowledge the fact that others may be dealing with their own painful experiences or may be unable to respond because of past experiences.
We all have our shortcomings, we all have our learned experiences, good or bad, and we all respond differently in a time of need, be it our own or someone else’s. With this thought in mind, this is a great time of the year to let it all go, to forgive ourselves and others, understanding that we are all so very different. That what we perceive as uncaring, is really just the way someone else copes. I think back to my daughter’s wake, and my brother comes to mind. He was in the building, but could not enter the room were my daughter was being waked. He cannot bear to see anyone lying in the coffin or casket. My family and I understand, but to an outsider it may appear as if he doesn’t care enough, which we know could not be further from the truth.
This knowledge alone has helped me to be more tolerant, more understanding, and more aware of others and their reactions and responses to situations and events. In an earlier post, ‘Oh, so what do you say’ I discussed what not to say, and how sometimes, because they do not quite know what to do or say, they will blurt out the first thing that comes to mind. So too it is with their presence or lack thereof, they are not sure they can handle it, so they stay away. It is not because of you or your loved one, it is their own personal struggle that may keep them away.
For some, the death of your loved one is too close to home for them, they cannot deal with the reality of it. For others, they may have gone through a funeral recently, and find it is too soon. There are a myriad of possible reasons why someone stayed away. If you find it is bothering you, talk to them about it, ask why. That is okay to do, really. Recently friends of ours where over for dinner, and they began to talk about the last four years. Next thing we know, they are explaining why they could not be there, why they stayed away. My husband and I glanced at each other, caught totally off guard, and realized that they felt a certain guilt, and needed to know from us that it was okay. That we understood. It opened our eyes, and helped us to look at everything from every angle.
During this holiday season, keep in mind that we all struggle with difficult times in our lives, and even though someone dear and near to us may not be acting or responding as we would expect; they too are hurting. They too may be trying to deal and cope with what has happened in their own unique way. Be open to others, to their hurts, and their feelings. It may be hard to see beyond your own, especially if this is your first holiday without a loved one, but know that they care, even if they may not show it in ways that make sense to you. Just like you, they are hurting to, and are trying to get through the holidays as well.
Your loved one is with you, always a presence in your life, and let the holiday season, however you celebrate it, be a time of love, hope and forgiveness. Love is all things, in all seasons.
Blessings! and until we meet again.