A Different Kind of Grief: Mourning the Family You Never Had This Holiday Season
Dec 25, 2016
I never really got it when people would sometimes say they hate the Christmas season.
Who doesn’t get all holly jolly with sparkling lights, pine scented homes, food, parties and good cheer in abundance? Christmas has always been my favorite time of the year and each year I fall so deeply into the ornaments, decorations, classic movies and songs, gift buying and carolling.
I love Christmastime and all it represents, but for those of us who haven’t experienced any real tragedies this year (thank God for that), we could sometimes forget that other people’s 2016 has been marred with death, sickness, unemployment, emotional distress, breakups, divorces and just a sad string of months.
Very recently I ran into an old friend and belted out the usual holiday spiel; wishing him seasons greetings and then I proceeded to ask him how he’s enjoying the season and what he was looking forward to. A sadness overtook him and he told me that his brother was just murdered in April and that the holidays really meant nothing to him this year. He’s in mourning.
And I got it. I felt for him. And his is the story of so many this year.
I lost my maternal grandfather in February but thankfully my family didn’t experience any other sad times this year, no major illnesses were diagnosed and I think we fared pretty well. AMEN!
But as I went about my days, and as the clocks ticked nearer to December 25 and my friends, family and loved ones moved around the city preparing their holiday plans and events, I too started to feel sad, I realized that I too was mourning, but I wasn’t mourning a death.
This Christmas season I’m mourning something I’ve never even experienced.
But the deeper we got into the holiday season, I started feeling an unexplained mourning in the pit of my gut that made me want to miss this year’s festivities and just hop over into the new year.
This is the first time I’ve ever wanted Christmas to be over and done with.
It wasn’t until I was scrolling Twitter one day and I tweeted something and that unexplained mourning made sense. It was like an epiphany.
I am mourning the family I long to have. Let it be known that I absolutely love the family I already have and I will be spending the holidays with them, with food, with love, lots of drinks and great conversation as we always do. But sadly, some of the people I want there, wont be there. Other family commitments, other plans, other events will keep us separated this season. I had no clue my desire for my own family was so great until the holidays loomed and quality time became even more important.
Now I see why some people say they’re not here for the holidays and to be honest, I’m on the fence as well.
A lot of people will be alone and will feel lonely this Christmas. A lot of people won’t be with the one they love, they won’t be able to cradle the baby they’ve been praying for, or kiss the husband they desire. Many people won’t be ale to give a gift to the girlfriend they’ve been wanting to spend the last two Christmases with, some will miss a wife who never existed, some will spend the holidays with just them two, yearning to grow their family.
To be honest, some people just want their own family. Going to aunts and grandparents and parents and siblings is all good, but there’s nothing like building your own family from the ground up; with you and your lover at the helm together deciding whose house to go to this year and the next…at least that’s what I hear.
I never thought “the most wonderful time of the year” could be anything but holly, jolly and merry. But now I see why this time of year becomes more about survival than enjoyment for some. Even in the mourning, the grieving and yearning, though, there’s always space and time to love the people and things who do exist today.
That’s my plan for this Christmas and my wish for you, should you need it.