I am grieving.
Grandma died just before Christmas and it has been really tough.
Death Doesn’t Know It’s Christmas Time
We think the whole world stops at Christmas Time; there are bank holidays, no school, closed shops, etc. But unfortunately death knows no such boundaries.
Grandma died right at the beginning of the festivities. The kids had broken up from school, we were on the five hour car journey to stay with the in-laws, we were singing away excitedly to the Christmas Hits, and suddenly we heard the news…
Somehow I had to get through the Christmas period.
Hubby rang ahead and explained to his parents what had happened, but there wasn’t really anything they could do. They gave their condolences on our arrival, but there were parties planned and family reunions to attend and presents to be exchanged.
They didn’t know my Grandma. She wasn’t from their side of the family. I couldn’t expect them to suspend everything.
It’s hard when you’re grieving at Christmas.
The world carries on. It has to. But at the same time, you want to scream at them, “Don’t you realise what has happened??!”
Grieving Is Hard When It’s Christmas
If it was a normal day, you might ring into work and tell them that you’re not coming in. The news would slowly drift around the office and the texts and sympathy cards would filter through to you.
But at Christmas time, the office is closed, or people are on holiday. You’re out of routine and you don’t see the people you normally see every day. You don’t have the support system that you would at any other time of year. It feels too abrupt to just text people the news out of the blue.
So you carry your grief alone.
Friends happily wish you a Merry Christmas, and it just doesn’t seem like an appropriate time to tell them that actually you’re breaking inside. You flash a smile and wish them a Happy Christmas…and your heart contracts so tightly in your chest that you can hardly breathe.
Don’t Spoil It: Don’t Ruin Christmas
I didn’t want to ruin Christmas for my girls. Jenny (5) has already begun to question if Father Christmas is real so who knows if this might be her last “magical” Christmas?!
Friends and family had gone to a lot of effort arranging parties and buying presents. I couldn’t put a dampener on that.
I tried my best to put my grief to one side.
I sang and I smiled and I laughed and I danced. And in many ways, I did enjoy Christmas. It was wonderful to see people, and our girls received some lovely gifts. I enjoyed playing games and going out walking.
There were even times that I didn’t think about Grandma.
But I was exhausted; permanently exhausted. I am learning that grieving is not just an emotional process – it’s a physical one. You can’t eat, and then you can’t stop eating. You’re tired and lethargic all day, but you can’t sleep once you’re in bed.
Even when you aren’t consciously grieving, your brain is still working through the loss and trying to make sense of it all. That’s draining.
Back To The Humdrum
The funeral was the first week in January, and so it loomed over the whole of Christmas. It was hard, but I thought I was coping.
But as I awoke on New Years Day, I fell apart. It felt like the news was brand new again. The festivities were over and next on the agenda was the funeral. There was nothing left to distract me; no visits or parties or presents. It was just me and the humdrum of normal life.
I think lots of people get that feeling once Christmas is over, but it feels a hundred times worse when you’re grieving and you’re working yourself up towards a funeral.
I Need Time To Process It
I realise now that there has been no time to process things over Christmas. I have been on survival mode. I have been “getting through”. Now the reality has hit. It almost feels like a new wave of grief; like I’m hearing the news for the first time again.
I went to the funeral yesterday. Somehow I managed to stand up and read out my tribute, but I cried pretty much the entire rest of the day.
Today we are back to “normality”. It’s just the toddler and I at home. I have been trying so very hard to focus on playing with her new doll’s house, but my mind keeps wandering. I’m going over the memories of my lovely Grandma, replaying them.
I’m mourning those happy times that will never happen again.
I guess this is the result of grieving at Christmas time; a delayed grief. It will take time to process things, but I’ve already had two weeks. Will people understand that those two weeks don’t count? Those two weeks, I was focussed on making sure everybody else was okay.
Now I really need some time for me.
Please be patient with me. Please give me time. I need time. I will get there. I will slowly assimilate the information and get to grips with my new “normal”, but for now, please remember that it’s hard to grieve at Christmas Time.